| Stranded passengers catch up on sleep at Guwahati railway station on Tuesday, on account of cancellation of over 20 trains because of the Kokrajhar riots. Picture by UB Photos |
July 24: Mayur Dehikar arrived at Guwahati railway station yesterday to catch a train to Mumbai. Like hundreds of others, he and his friends were forced to spend the entire day at the station.
For hours, an anxious Mayur idled away his time on the platform, hoping that the situation would improve but this afternoon he came to know that all the trains had been cancelled because the state government couldn’t assure NF Railways of security.
“You cannot eat inside the station because the food here is expensive. We had our lunch at a hotel outside the station. We came to know that other trains have also been cancelled. I do not have enough money to board a flight or stay at a hotel. I don’t know what will happen now,” said Mayur.
There are only two food stalls inside the station and one of them only serves south Indian cuisine.
However, the tea stalls did brisk business because most people did not have any option but to eat from their stalls.
Passengers — men, women, children and the elderly — spent the day lying on the floor of Guwahati railway station with their luggage next to them and an ear on the announcements.
Some of them cancelled their trips or made other arrangements.
“I was supposed to leave for Bhubaneswar at 6.30am on the Bangalore Express. After waiting for hours, I have now come to know that the train has been cancelled. I will now have to catch a flight. It will be expensive but right now there is no other option as I have an emergency at work,” said Choudhury.
There was a constant crowd in front of the enquiry office all morning, and as soon as news of the cancellation spread the expression of frustration on the weary faces was apparent. Some started asking if they would get their money back or be allowed to use the same ticket in the future.
Senior stationmaster Asheshwar Jha was seen not only coordinating with senior officials, district administration and police, but also with the passengers who entered his room either to blast him and ask all sorts of questions.
The NF Railway cancelled seven trains from Guwahati railway station and two from Kamakhya railway station.
A railway official said they feared that at any time the passengers might get excited and vandalise the station.
A few months ago, passengers went on the rampage at Kamakhya railway station because a train was delayed. “You cannot control passengers all the time. If they get excited it is very difficult to bring them under control,” said the official.