Army job aspirants ‘hijack’ train, harass passengers in Guna; no action by railways
The Railways appeared ill-equipped to handle the sudden rush of candidates, most of whom were allegedly travelling ticketless.india Updated: Jan 18, 2018 08:43 IST
Candidates travelling to Guna to attend an Army recruitment drive allegedly hijacked a train, harassed passengers and vandalised railway property over the last one week, but managed to get away because the authorities believed acting against them would cause law-and-order issues.
Around 60,000 candidates are participating in the recruitment drive, being conducted from January 8 to 22. Most of them prefer travelling to Guna by train.
According to officials, most of the trouble in the first three days of the drive was reported from the Guna-Gwalior sector. The Railways appeared ill-equipped to handle the sudden rush of candidates, most of whom were allegedly travelling ticketless.
Officials said the “hijacking” occurred on a train meant for passengers of the Mukhya Mantri Teerth Darshan Yojna, plying from Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh to Rameshwaram, on January 11. When the train entered Guna station, thousands of candidates returning from the recruitment drive barged in and forced the engine driver to take it to Shivpuri – about 100 km north. Although they intended to commandeer the train all the way to Gwalior, the Railway Police Force (RPF) managed to disperse the hijackers through mild force.
“No FIR was registered because the candidates fled the scene after we forced them to vacate the train at Shivpuri. Our main intention was to ensure that the train resumed its journey without any further law-and-order problems,” said West-Central Railways public relations officer IA Siddiqui.
The Railways’ woes, however, did not end with that. The candidates then boarded most of the other trains on the route without tickets, forcibly occupying seats even in air-conditioned and women’s coaches. They could not be evicted because the rightful passengers and RPF personnel were grossly outnumbered.
“It was very difficult for the RPF to control so many people. It is true that they even entered air-conditioned coaches, but we refrained from tackling them with brute force because that would have impacted passenger safety,” said Siddiqui.
Sunita Agrawal, a 42-year-old Shivpuri resident who was travelling alone in the Indore- Amritsar Express, recalled how her journey suddenly turned nightmarish after the train reached Guna. “A large number of youngsters entered the coach at the station. They were laughing, mouthing abuses and misbehaving with passengers but we were helpless to do anything. It was horrible,” she said.
Direct Army Recruitment (Gwalior) director Colonel Manish Chaturvedi alleged that the Railways had rejected their request for special trains. “It is the duty of the district administration to make all the arrangements in this regard. They had invited us to organise the recruitment rally at Guna in the first place. Though we asked the Railways to run special trains for candidates over a period of 15 days, they didn’t do anything,” he said.
Siddiqui said the Railways could not provide special trains due to a “communication problem”. “We will take care of it in the future,” he added.
However, other Railway officials wondered who would foot the bill for such arrangements, considering that running a train with 18 bogies costs anywhere between Rs 4.5-6 lakh per day.
“The Army told us to take money from the candidates, but it is a normal practice for those appearing for such exams to travel ticketless. We mostly look the other way in such instances, considering that most of the candidates are poor,” a Railway official said on the condition of anonymity.
A district administration official, however, blamed both Railway and Army authorities for the chaos. “Guna is not well-connected with Gwalior. Both these agencies should have known that a recruitment drive would require thousands of candidates to travel between the two places every day, and made necessary arrangements,” he said.
Guna collector Rajesh Kumar Jain said the situation has now been brought under control.
First Published: Jan 17, 2018 20:33 IST