Monday, December 10, 2007

Mumbai train boycott

All the trains were running empty on December 10th, photos everywhere in the Press show it. Sorry I was too busy to take a photo. Some estimate a boycott by 3 million commuters on that day, perhaps correctly.

The Times of India says the demand is "run a train to and from Virar, the last of the stations serving Mumbai's north-western suburbs, every five minutes.

The death count this year has already crossed 2,900. WR, thankfully, did not use force against protesters on Monday. The last such people's agitation, on the same day in December 2005, ended in violence as police — adding insult to injury — lobbed tear-gas shells and cane-charged demonstrators."

There are more deaths PER YEAR than for the entire "troubles" in Belfast. Present demands are fair and reasonable. Having travelled on the Mumbai WR in the last couple of days, my view is that self-closing doors seem a "must", but would clearly lead to additional big problems unless there are dramatic improvements elsewhere.

As per Railways own estimate, in peak hour trains 16-17 people are compelled to huddle together in one square meter of floor space for an hour or more! It is misery forced on millions of people by a ruling establishment which just does not care for the safety, health and dignity of citizens.

On the requirement of a train every 5 minutes from Virar, one site says "It’s time to think where the system stays if 30 lakh commuters decide to travel without tickets beyond Mira Road up to Virar. We have demonstrated our unity today …We can do it again".
MP of the North Mumbai constituency said, “As a former railway minister, I am aware of the problems faced by commuters. Things have not improved over the years. All the political parties are in support of the protest.”

There appear to have been no incidents of violence by commuters, the demo being totally peaceful on the commuter side.

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