Thousands of commuters were stranded for hours on Friday after suburban rail services on the Harbour and Central lines were disrupted by violent public protests over delayed running of trains.
The services were delayed on the Central Railway due to disruption in power supply in the overhead equipment (OHE) wire during peak hours and there was a breakdown of local train service at Thakurli station near Kalyan in Thane district. Following this, commuters began agitating and got on the tracks to protest the regular failure in the suburban services.
"The commuters occupied all four lines between Diva and Mumbra since morning 8.30am. We are not able to operate the services because of it. There was power supply problem in the morning but it has been restored now," said Mukesh Nigam, divisional railway manager (DRM), Mumbai division.
Diva station area remained tense after police resorted to lathicharge to remove agitators, who disrupted both long distance and suburban train service, from the tracks.
Train services in both the the Central and Harbour lines resumed towards 3pm after a disruption of more than six hours, but they were still running slow even by evening.
According to Government Railway Police (GRP) officials, protestors engaged in stone pelting, damaged station property and even burnt three cars after train services stopped for over 30 minutes.
The situation took an ugly turn at around 10am following which extra police forces of the GRP and the Thane city police had to be called in.
"Following the stone pelting, locals set at least three vehicles on fire, which made Thane police resort to lathicharge to bring the situation in control," said a GRP officer.
The violence at Diva station had a cascading effect with commuters at Dombivli and Tilak Nagar stations ransacking railway property and damaging automatic ticket vending machines.
"After local train disruption, I have sent MOS home and urban development Ranjeet Patil to immediately ensure that law and order is maintained," chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said.
Cabinet minister Eknath Shinde reached the Diva to pacify the agitators who demanded trains from Diva station.
Harbour line services had come to a halt after the motormen reportedly refused to operate trains due to security reasons. After a few motormen were injured, others planned a flash strike to protest against the unruly behaviour of commuters but called it off soon after GRP provided them with security.
Senior GRP officials rushed to the spot to clear the trains as several long distance trains like the Guwahati Express were held up.
"We have cleared the tracks for train traffic and have deployed policemen at the Diva station. Police presence on all the railway stations on central and harbour lines have also been increased," said Rupali Ambure, deputy commissioner of police, GRP (CR).
Watch | Mumbai: Local train services hit by technical glitch, violent protests follow