In the last week of May, I saw a huge crowd at Vatva in the morning. Vatva is a second stop between Ahmedabad and Anand. It was a small village earlier but now it is a part of Ahmedabad city. There are a lot of small-scale industries in Vatva. As I commute to Anand for my job, similarly people from nearby villages commute to Ahmedabad. Thus lots of workers and daily wagers from the villages till Vadodara commute to Ahmedabad to earn their living. Anand memu stopped at Vatva everyday for two minutes. And every other day, I used to witness another memu going towards Ahmedabad on the side track of the station.
The reason of its siding was one express train. Shanti Express. Only once or twice in a week, Shanti Express didn’t cause any problem to memu. In last week of May again, memu was on the side track and there was huge crowd on the platform discussing something. Sixty percent of that memu used to get empty at Vatva as it was industrial area. On normal working day, people would have rushed towards their workplace but that day they gathered to discuss something. Anand memu stopped there for two minutes and left the station.
“This is serious. What happened? Accident?” Dwarkesh Kaka inquired.
“No. No. It would be definitely for its siding. They will complain about it.” Sharma ji was sure about it.
Its siding used to cause problems for the workers and daily wagers going to Ahmedabad. Due to its siding they used to get late in reaching at their workplace on time. Thus according to Sharma ji that meeting was about complaining about its siding as it had become everyday affair.
Couple of days later, Anand memu stopped at Vatva station and we saw a sea of people on the tracks. They had stopped Shanti Express. They didn’t allow Shanti Express to pass by. Sharma ji’s prediction was right. That planning was about the siding of the train. Number of people on tracks was huge. They were more than the whole memu train.
“Workers and daily wagers doing the night shift has also joined them.” Sharma ji told the inside story.
Their network was so strong that when our memu stopped at Vatva, lot people got down even from our train and joined the protest. That day instead of two minutes, our memu stopped at Vatva station for 10 minutes. People who got down from our train were not worried about getting late at their job, they were standing by those whose job was getting affected because of the mismanagement. That day, they stopped Shanti Express for more than two hours. That day instead of railways, people gave the green signal to Shanti Express that too after receiving the assurance in writing from the authorities. Authorities assured them that the siding of the memu will not be done because of Shanti Express again.
The result was in front of us from next day itself. Railway authorities stopped taking memu train on the side track because of Shanti Express at Vatva. It was an impact of the network of those workers and daily wagers that they stopped express train to cross the local train to reach its destination first.
“It should be done on the regular basis then only railway authorities will start valuing our time. They only trouble the commuters between Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Around Surat, its commuters rule.” Sharma ji started sharing his experiences and stared describing difference between the commuters of Ahmedabad, Vadodara and Surat.
“How is it a commuters rule?” That phrase made me curious.
“You will never see any local train getting delayed because of the delay of express or superfast trains. Apart from that, ticket checkers never ask for ticket from commuters even if they travel in the reserved coach of superfast express. If TCs fine commuters there, then they literally beat them. That’s the kind of network commuters of Surat have. Thus there is commuters rule.” Sharma ji explained in detail. Monthly season ticket is not considerable in superfast trains. It is not considerable even reserved coach of any train.
“What? Seriously?” I was amused after hearing that as those were some interesting facts.
“The network is even stronger when you approach Mumbai from Surat. In Mumbai, commuters rule is as strong as Shiv Sena’s rule. TCs don’t even try to enter in the local train or ask for ticket from commuters. There, commuters beat the TCs more brutally,” Sharma ji reached Mumbai from Surat. “This is nothing. TCs are thrown out of the train, shooted on the spot and stabbed on the demand of the ticket in various regions of Bihar and UP. So as any train starts approaching Bihar and UP, TCs stop checking tickets.” Sharma ji stopped and rested his talk after reaching Bihar.
Those workers and daily wagers didn’t do anything wrong there. They were getting late because of the mismanagement of railway authorities. Their train was getting late because some express train was not running on time. Thus they used their network to good effect.