An account of a commuter riot against poor service in India, 2006.
A daily commuter: The 7:55 am Mathura Shuttle towards Delhi, the 8:15 am Ballabhgarh train and the 8:35 am Palwal Shuttle haven’t reached New Town Station yet, and it is already 8:35 am. The platform is packed with commuters. The Ballbhagarh train arrives New Station at 8:40 am, there is a fair bit of pushing and punching and quite a lot of people miss the train. The train has half reached platform number one of Old Station when people stop the train and force the driver to get off. After the front wind screen and the headlight are smashed people start breaking the windows of the waggons, the passengers get off the train and join in pelting stones. At Old Station about 20,000 daily commuters are crammed together. The front screen window of a freight train engine which stands in the station gets broken, too. The Capital Express (posh train conecting state and national capital) from Mumbai towards Delhi stops at the outer signal. A crowd smashing the signals arrive at the Capital Express and start to break the windows. A Minister of Home of the central government is on the Capital Express, as well. The police is there, but what can ten to twenty police men do once there is such a crowd? If they would use their clubs, they would get beaten up themselves. The DC (see Glossary) and SP (dito) from Faridabad and the Railway SP and a heavy police force arrives and the situation turns back to normal.
Between 6:30 am and 9:30 am there are nine local trains which carry 100,000 daily commuters from as far as Agra to the factories, offices, shops and other work places in Faridabad and Delhi. More and more people get stuffed into the local trains. The situation is so bad that there is not even space left to stand.There are between 500 to 700 people in one wagon! People who hang outside the train often get hit by signals. Often people get seriously injured while trying to get on or off the train. And an eight hours working day easily turns into a twelve to fourteen hours day. The Railway department often stop local trains while giving green lights to freight trains and express trains. In consequence a half an hour local train journey can extend to one or even one and a half hours. Reprimands for coming late you can get everywhere, factories often refuse people who arrive late access and send them back. Only yesterday night the local train which was to reach Okhla at 8:10 pm had been cancelled. After a long time in limbo the Malwa Express to Jammu was turned into a local train. In order to clear the way for the Capital Express the local train stopped for ten minutes in Tugalkabad and then 20 mintes at Old Station in order to clear the way for the Southern Express. The local train would have arrived New Station an 8:45 pm, the Malwa arrived finally at 10 pm. Under these conditions commuters will always be in a state of tension.
From Gurgaon workers news #2, 2007
Originally from FMS no.220, October 2006