A ‘wrong announcement’ made through the public address system at Sodepur station amidst hardships faced due to the cancellation of 150 local trains on the Sealdah-Ranaghat section provoked mob fury that paralysed train services for around three hours on Saturday morning.
An erroneous announcement about the arrival of a Sealdah-bound train sparked an agitation among local passengers at Sodepur station on Saturday morning. The irate mob damaged display boards at station and tried to set fire to the railway tracks. Thereafter the agitated passengers squatted on the tracks for more than two hours, disrupting local train services on both Up and Down lines between Sealdah and Sodepur. A number of local trains had to be halted at Bengharia, Dum Dum, Agarpara and Barrackpore stations.
An announcement was made at around 9 a.m. that a Sealdah bound train, Ranaghat local will soon arrive at platform number 2. But after a long wait there was no train for Sealdah and there was no announcement when the train would arrive, passengers alleged.
The furious passengers started damaging display boards and tried to set fire to the railway tracks, leading to major chaos at the station. Railway police said the protesters ransacked the station master’s cabin and control room and also indulged in stone-pelting.
Thousands of passengers were stranded at various stations following the incident. Many passengers opted for buses to reach their workplaces. But there was traffic congestion on B T Road causing more harassment for commuters. A large contingent of Railway Protection Force and General Railway Police along with local police were deployed to bring the situation under control.
What made matters worse was the fact that as many as 140 local trains had been cancelled on Sealdah section for signal repairing for the past two days, causing massive overcrowding in the trains that were still plying. Around 350 trains are operated on the Sealdah-Ranaghat section.
The railways had earlier announced scheduled modernisation of interlocking system from 7 to 10 September. “The protest is unexpected. We had publicised it through various channels including advertisements,” Eastern Railways spokesperson Ravi Mahapatra said.