Though a bit belated, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief, Raj Thackeray, has, reacting to the stampede at the Elphinstone Road railway station overbridge, said they would not allow a single brick to be placed for the proposed Ahmedabad-Mumbai bullet train until the infrastructure of local railways is made better.
‘Until the present infra of local railways is made better, not a single brick will be allowed to be placed for the bullet train in Mumbai,’ he declared.
Hitting out at the railways for the loss of 22 lives at the stampede Thackeray asked, ‘Why do we need terrorists or enemies like Pakistan? It seems our own Railway is enough to kill our people’.
Strongly opposing removal of authorised hawkers from foot and over-bridges of railway stations, Thackeray said, ‘We will give a deadline to throw out illegal hawkers from station bridges, and if it is not complied with then we'll act on our own’.
The Sena chief said that he would lead a morcha on October 5 to Western Railway headquarters at Churchgate and question them about their infrastructure. He added, ‘The list of issues related to Mumbai local will be given to the Railway on October 5 with a deadline. If things do not get better, we will see to it’.
Thackeray said the Railway has blamed rains for the stampede. ‘It is not the first time that it had rained in Mumbai. They (Railway) say it happened due to rains?’
Meanwhile a public interest litigation has been filed in the Bombay High Court that railway officials be booked for negligence and culpable homicide in connection with the stampede. The PIL was submitted at the high court registry by a resident, PradeepBhalekar.
The petition has sought an inquiry into the incident, urging the high court to supervise the matter and issue appropriate directions.
The PIL alleged that the issue of the Elphinstone Road bridge being too narrow had been raised by citizens time and again but the government and the railways had failed to take action.
‘This is complete negligence on the part of the railways. A case under Section 304 (II) of the IPC for culpable homicide needs to be registered against the railway officials concerned,’ the petition said. It also sought measures to be undertaken to ensure safety of commuters.
‘The railways have to be also directed to take action against illegal hawkers and encroachers on foot over-bridges to reduce crowding,’ the PIL added.