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Rail rowdies to lose ‘pass’

A commuter will forfeit the right to renew the monthly ticket if he or she is involved in any form rail disruption, says a railway notification pasted outside counters at stations.

“The notification was issued on the basis of an Allahabad High Court order,” said an Eastern Railway official. Insiders said junior railway minister Adhir Chowdhury had asked officials to implement the notification, which was actually issued in 2011, with “immediate effect”.

The long-lost order has been resurrected because of a series of train blockades, including people squatting on tracks in protest and at times assaulting train guards and breaking railway property.

On February 13, a group of passengers had beaten up a guard, broken the windshield of a train and damaged the office of the stationmaster at Sealdah station after a train got delayed. In September last year, passengers had blocked the tracks at Sonarpur station for close to two hours demanding more trains to Sealdah station from the southern suburbs.

The notification says a person seeking to buy or renew a monthly ticket must sign a form declaring that he or she will refrain from any offence under the IPC or the Indian Railway Act on platforms or trains. “The forms are available at ticket counters of stations across the country. Passenger will have to fill in the form to get a new monthly ticket or renew the existing one,” the official said.

This concession pass to commute between two specific stations is valid for a month. “It is very handy for regular passengers like me. From Konnagar to Howrah station and back, it costs Rs 10. This adds up to Rs 300 a month. But a monthly ticket can be had for just Rs 85,” a commuter said.

Officials were at a loss when asked how the notification would be implemented without creating confusion and chaos.

“I don’t know how we will identify a person involved in a rail disruption. Even if we catch a few and cancel their monthly tickets, how can we stop them from buying a fresh one? We don’t have infrastructure to store data of all the offenders,” an official said.

Chowdhury would not have any of it. “Once we take up the initiative, implementation can be done easily. We will try our level best to stop rowdy passengers from disrupting train movement and harassing lakhs of passengers,” the junior railway minister had said.