Funeral processions pass through Kurla station in Mumbai for want of bridge
For more than a decade, members of Muslim community in Kurla (West) has been requesting Railway and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) officials to construct a new pedestrian bridge at Kurla station so that they can easily access Sunni Muslim Kabrastan, located on the eastern side, at Kasaiwada. However, the authorities are yet to pay heed to their request.
The issue was brought to light again by the community on Sunday, when a big funeral procession had to pass from platforms 7 and 8 of Kurla station. Though there is a foot overbridge (FOB ) which connects Kurla’s western side to the east near the cemetery, it is on the southern side of the station. Mourners going towards the cemetery find the route too long. As a result, all funeral processions beginning from Kurla West prefer to take a route from platform 1 through the Foot overbridge (FOB) to platforms 7 and 8, before exiting on Kasaiwada side on the East.
“I have repeatedly requested the Railway authorities to look into the matter because it is not a pleasant sight for passengers when a funeral passes through rail premises. This is the only station that connects Central Railway to Harbour line, thereby making it very crowded. We fear another incident of stampede, similar to the one which took place at Elphinstone last year, could take place in such a scenario,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Parishad, a passenger association.
Though the cemetery is located in Kurla East, even residents living on the eastern side don’t have an easy access to the cemetery. Residents of Nehru Nagar, Kurla (East), used to earlier walk through the Trombay railway line, which connected the RCF factory to reach the cemetery. However, the access to the tracks has now been sealed because new facilities are being constructed by the railways, forcing residents in Kurla East too, to use the platform to go to the cemetery.
“There is only one cemetery in all of Kurla from Jagruti Nagar to Nehru Nagar. The other one is at Jari Mari in Sakinaka, which is very far for us. We understand that the customs in our country are such that people don’t like coming across a dead body while they are on their way to work, but we don’t really have an option,” said Asif Naikwadi, secretary, Sunni Raza Masjid.
Naikwadi added that they have been pursuing the matter to get the FOB built with direct access to the crematorium for more than a decade now, but they have only been getting assurances on paper.
“Even if all the FOBs are directly linked to each other, the funeral procession would not have to pass through the platform,” said Abdul Sttar, a social worker from Kurla.
Officials from the Kurla Railway Police Force (RPF) said that they witness funeral processions crossing over to the east at least three times in a month.
“What we do in such a situation? Managing the crowd is a bit difficult. But we don’t really have an option because it a matter of faith and we can’t expect people to walk on the tracks carrying a dead body. The say that the other route is really long,” said an RPF official on the condition of anonymity.
Mangesh Kudalkar, the Member of the Legislative Assembly from Kurla said that only when the BMC clears the grant for the project, can the Railway build the bridge on their property.
“The procedure for clearances for building the bridge is on. I will be meeting the chief engineer at BMC next week to check the progress,” said Kudalkar.