Featured Image: File photo of an overcrowded local train in Kolkata.
Kolkata, 19 August: MONDAY’s ugly clash between women and male commuters at Khardah rail station in Bengal saw a repeat on Wednesday with sections from the two genders clashing with each other and blocking railway tracks at several stations on the Sealdah-Bongaon and Sealdah-Hasnabad route.
Railway minister Suresh Prabhu, who is scheduled to call on Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at Nabanna tomorrow is likely to discuss the matter with her, in addition to raising the issue of stalled railway projects in Bengal.
The trouble that lasted for about six hours from 8.30 this morning, left several men and women injured and threw train services on the two routes completely out of gear. Some women complained that their male co-commuters snatched away their moneybags and mobiles when they tried to video record the assault.
At the root of the trouble is Eastern Railway’s allowing men to travel in some compartments of the Matribhoomi ladies special trains in Sealdah rail division from Monday. The move has angered women passengers, who say that they find it extremely difficult to commute in general trains because of excessive crowd.
Today’s trouble started from Bamangachi station around 8.30 am, when female passengers blocked the rail track demanding that the Matribhoomi Local on Bongaon route should be run with 12 coaches, instead of the present 9. Only after this, men may be allowed in three coaches of the train, they argued.
The blockade turned violent after some female passengers were manhandled by the male passengers. Stones and bricks were pelted at them and two women sustained injuries in their head.
After the news spread, female passengers blocked the rail line at Hridaypur station. The blockades at Bamangachi and Hridaypur were subsequently lifted following police intervention.
But not very long after this another clash and blockade ensued at Birati station after women travellers stopped male passengers from boarding a ladies special train.
Soon there were blockades and counter blockades near Duttapukur and Madhyamgram stations. The two factions also got into scuffle and verbal abuse and the police were finding it difficult to contain the situation.
The blockades were finally lifted around 2 pm, but by then, train services to various suburban routes to and from Sealdah had completely gone haywire.
Thousands of commuters got stranded because of this and taking advantage of the situation, a section of auto drivers charged excess fare on routes to and from Dum Dum.