Hundreds of passengers of Jodhpur-Bengaluru Express (16533) and Solapur-Hubballi Express (11424) were stranded for close to two hours at Hubballi and Gadag railway stations on Thursday following a snap protest by railway employees and officials condemning the arrest of an official in connection with the railway parcel office collapse in Hubballi.
The snap protest by the railway employees and officials started at the Hubballi Railway Station after the news about the arrest of Additional Divisional Engineer of Hubballi Division of South Western Railway S.R. Biradar spread.
Mr. Biradar was arrested by the Railway General Police in connection with the collapse of the Hubballi railway parcel office in which seven persons were killed and 14 injured. Following an inquiry, the police have reportedly filed a case against eight persons, including Mr. Biradar. On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Biradar was arrested and subsequently remanded in judicial custody till March 30. According to sources, an attempt to get bail for him did not materialise.
On getting to know about the incident, initially, railway officers gathered at the Hubballi Railway Station to protest and were joined by railway employees, led by South Western Railways Mazdoor Union general secretary A.M. D’cruz and others.
With more employees joining, the protesters forced the loco pilots to get off the Jodhpur-Bengaluru Express and did not allow it continue on its journey. They said that they would not withdraw the protest unless the arrested officer was released.
The passengers of the train who were travelling for long got restless when their appeal to the protesters did not make any impact and they resorted to staging a counter protest.
Although Divisional Railway Manager Arun Jain rushed to the spot, he failed to convince the employees of the need to allow trains to pass through. It was only after South Western Railways general manager Pradeep Kumar Saxena spoke to them over telephone that they decided to withdraw their protest.
The Jodhpur Express which was scheduled to leave Hubballi at 4.55 p.m. finally left the station at 7 p.m.