Mumbai, Binoo Nair: Will the Central Railway go after the Diva vandals, who ran up almost Rs 2 crore worth of damage to 10 of its rakes, and make them pay for it? Just about every official DNA spoke to says, off the record, that it would be the right approach as it would send a stern warning to people that protests against falling punctuality of trains might be fine but damaging public property is intolerable.
A top official said they strongly belief that violence during such protests are the handiwork of vandals and general thrill-seekers, and not common office-goers who are the most inconvenienced when train services are down. “Then why should the railways spare these vandals? Ideally railways should approach court to ensure that the damages are recovered from those arrested by the police. If it is proved in court that those arrested indeed were guilty, then they should be made to pay.”
However, it being a policy decision that might require the intervention of the railway board as well as the railway minister, no one was willing to come on record. SK Sood, general manager of CR said that he would have to think over the issue before giving an answer. An SMS sent to railway minister Suresh Prabhu didn’t elicit a reply.
According to railway officials, there is a precedence with the Mumbai police slapping such ‘recovery’ charges from the perpetrators of the Azad Maidan riots that occurred on August 11, 2012. The collector’s office had estimated the damage in the Azad Maidan riots to be around Rs2.75 crore. The violence had claimed the lives of two youths and left over 50 injured, including 44 policemen. The matter is being currently heard in the Bombay High Court.
As front-paged by DNA in its January 3 edition, the damage to CR’s rakes was so excessive that for the first time perhaps it had to send an SOS to Western Railway to send in spares so that the damaged rakes could be re-deployed into service at the earliest.
On January 2, commuters ransacked rail tracks and properties following train delays and disrupted traffic on the central line for over six hours.