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With Railways inching towards privatization, passengers’ safety becomes a concern

Our Correspondent
TINSUKIA, June 14: As the process of abolition of 1,250 posts is underway in NFR division alone, the NF Railway Mazdoor Union (NFRMU) has expressed serious concern over safety of passengers and Railwaymen after Railway authority initiated the deployment of personnel for patrolling during monsoon and cold weather through private parties. A press release issued by Pulak Gogoi, press secretary of NFRMU, stated that the Railway authorities were abolishing the posts in a phased manner and entrusting the job to private parties leading to threat to life and security of all stakeholders. Keeping security policy at bay, the Railway authorities increased the duty hours of Gateman from 8 to 12 hours, besides forcefully engaging personnel for continuous night duties, the release said, adding that a track maintainer under Rangia Division Amin Boro was terminated recently after he fell asleep on duty. Boro was forced to engage in the job for seven consecutive nights.

Shiva Gopal Mishra, general secretary of All India Railwaymen Federation (AIRF), in a statement expressed his anguish over the Railway Board’s decision to abolish 11,000 posts and objected to the Board’s policy in clear terms in his meeting with the Railway Board on Thursday. The DRMs of all Railway divisions have been directed to prepare a comprehensive list of superannuating employees. The Executive Director (E&R) Railway Board in his letter No 2017/E&R/2(8)/1 of June 11, 2018 to 16 General Managers of Zonal Railways has outlined ‘annual targets’ for surrender of posts which clearly indicates Railways’ deliberate intention towards privatization of essential public utility services.

There are also reports of passengers being harassed at the hands of service providers who have been engaged by private parties in prestigious trains like Rajdhani Express. With increasing trends of unlawful incidences inside the train compartments following engagement of private parties, safety has become a major concern for passengers.