Bangalore/Channapatana: The recent incident of 19-year-old Asha, who was thrown off a Mysore-bound train near Maddur, has brought into focus the dangerous and cramped conditions under which daily commuters are forced to travel in. Blocked passages, abusive co-passengers and commuters travelling inside toilets seem to be the norm for the people who take the Chamundi Express between Bangalore and Mysore every evening.
With only two trains operating between these two cities in the evening, thousands of passengers have to literally fight for the right to find some space to stand on their way back home. With 250-300 passengers in a coach meant for around 120 persons, overcrowding has become a serious issue. “At least, five people travel in the toilets of the train,” said Khaiser Ali Khan, a regular commuter. “The journey takes more than two hours, what if someone wants to use the toilet?,” he questioned.
Another problem is that of passengers who block seats early for their friends who join them later. “Forget security, we have been reduced to praying for simple conditions like a seat,” said Sharada, who works in a garment factory in Peenya and commutes to Channapatna everyday.
Blocked passages, abusive co-passengers and commuters travelling inside toilets seem to be the norm for the people.
While the situation is bad in the general compartments, it is compounded in the ladies’ coach since the train has only one coach reserved for women even though they number in hundreds. This, inspite of the fact that 95 per cent of the women who take the train are regular commuters who buy monthly passes costing between Rs 205 and Rs 370 for Channapatna or Mysore. In order to pass time, the women make flower garlands, selling snacks or blouse pieces or hand towels. Others just nap or chat.
Despite so many issues, people have been traveling this way for years without choosing to shift base to Bangalore. Bharati who works as a stenographer in the city says her husband is a farmer and she has aged in-laws and two children living in Mandya. “I have been travelling to Bangalore for work for the past eight years. We cannot move to Bangalore because then educating my children would be very expensive and unaffordable,” she said.
A teacher from Mysore, who takes this train back from Bangalore twice a week spoke of an incident that happened three months ago in which a drunkard got into the ladies’ coach at the Channapatna station. “There is very little security between Channapatna to Mysore,” she said. Most of these women are in a dilemma about how the issue of intruders from other compartments could be handled.