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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rly commuters from Vasai to sit on dharna today

MUMBAI: Fed up with overcrowded trains, suburban commuters will sit on a four-hour-long peaceful dharna at Vasai and Mira Road railway stations from 6 pm on Wednesday, which coincides with the International Human Rights Day.

Pravas Adhikar Andolan Samiti (PAAS) convener Shailendra Kamble said the protest was being held to pressurise the Western Railway administration into increasing the frequency of suburban trains in the Virar sector.

"The new rakes, which have been received by the WR, are still being tested. We want the WR to speed up the process,'' said Kamble adding that the PAAS will also start a signature campaign. "We will submit all the signatures to the WR administration by the end of this month,'' he said.

PAAS started its agitation against inadequate train services in 2005 by organising a rail satyagraha which saw trains being stopped for an hour at four stations- Nallasopara, Vasai Road, Mira Road and Naigaon stations on December 10. " The large scale protests resulted in police firing and lathi charge. Twenty eight people were put behind bars for 15 days,'' said Kamble.

In the following year, the group organised a peaceful march from Vasai Road to Mira Road stations. More than 1,000 people had participated in the event.

The year 2007 saw another large scale protest where lakhs of commuters on the Borivli- Virar sector boycotted trains from 6 am to 6 pm. "Not a single passenger boarded the trains. This andolan was aimed at getting the attention of the WR authorities, `' said Kamble, adding that a few days later new services as well as new rakes were pressed into service. Also, between last and this year, a total of four trains were started. "Recently, 23 new services were started, but that was along the whole line and not just the Virar sector.'' Pointing out that there were only three new services each during morning and evening and eleven new services throughout the entire day, Kamble

said, "This is grossly inadequate. We continue our protest on Wednesday.''

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