The decision of the railway administration to close a manned railway gate between Alakudi and Thanjavur falling under the Tiruchi – Thanjavur broad gauge section on Sunday as a sequel to the assault on a gatekeeper on duty by unidentified persons met with stiff opposition from public.
A group of around 100 persons, majority of them school students, staged a rail roko in the evening at the closed manned gate 305-A demanding its immediate reopening.
The rail roko stir led to the detention of the Tiruchi – Karaikal passenger (Train No. 76852) for over 40 minutes at the spot warranting intervention of the Thanjavur district police officials. The protesters gave up the stir after the police officers pacified them saying that a peace meeting would be convened involving revenue officials to find a solution.
Consequent to the sudden closure of the manned gate on Sunday afternoon in the wake of the assault on the gatekeeper the previous night, the Revenue Divisional Officer, Thanjavur sent a written communication to the Divisional Railway Manager, Tiruchi on Sunday seeking the opening of the manned gate as its closure had caused huge inconvenience to the general public, farmers and school students residing in its vicinity.
Official sources said the RDO in the letter stated that a First Information Report has been registered in connection with the assault on gatekeeper Arjun Meena in the late hours on October 6.
Police sources said the Government Railway Police, Thanjavur, had booked a case against unknown persons under IPC sections including 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and 506 (i) (criminal intimidation) in connection with the assault on the gatekeeper.
The gate serves as a public passage for around 600 families of Vannarapettai village and few other villages in its vicinity to reach Thanjavur town. The closure of the gate meant, residents had to take a detour of about six to seven kilometres to reach Thanjavur, said the sources.
Closure of the gate would prevent ambulances from reaching these villages and it would also affect farmers and cause hardship to school students, said official sources.
The communication from the RDO to the Divisional Railway Manager, Tiruchi, said that steps would be taken to find a remedy through legal means for the affected gatekeeper. It further said closure of the gate could trigger a situation affecting law and order and wanted the opening of the manned gate.
Divisional Railway Manager, Tiruchi, P. Uday Kumar Reddy told The Hindu on Monday that the railway administration was equally keen to resolve the issue with assistance from the local administration at the earliest.
The latest attack on a gatekeeper is the fifth such incident in Tiruchi Railway Division, he said adding that gatekeepers are protecting the public by discharging their duty and ensuring that there was no accidents. This being the case, it was equally imperative on the part of the administration to ensure their protection, he said.
Mr. Reddy said he had written a letter to the Superintendent of Police of districts falling within the jurisdiction of Tiruchi Railway Division appealing to them to provide necessary assistance in ensuring the safety of gatekeepers deployed along various stretches by deploying a beat constable to ensure their safety and protection.