It is one of the biggest nightmares of the suburban commuter! A stone coming out of nowhere and hitting him/her while she/he is standing on the train doorstep or sitting on the much-coveted window seat, and cracking open his/her skull or plucking out his/her eye.
Of the 16 to 18 cases of stone-pelting the railway security agencies register every year, just about one or two are ever solved!
For the lakhs of suburban commuters, it is a harrowing thought that there is someone lurking in the sidelines who has this habit of pelting stones at moving trains, and that he does it every time he gets an opportunity.
Since 2009, of the 76 cases of stone-pelting registered by the railway police, only seven have been solved and the culprit arrested. The worst was in 2010; all the 16 cases registered that year remained unsolved.
In January this year, a woman travelling in the first class ladies compartment of CST-Panvel train got hit right on her temple somewhere between Wadala and GTB stations on the Harbour Line. A woman police officer and a male constable travelling in the same compartment, helped the victim get down at GTB Nagar and get treatment for injuries sustained on her forehead. She, however, did not lodge any complaint.
The Mumbai railway police reported 16 similar cases in 2013, in which commuters either lost their vision or hurt their eyes or head.
Solving such a case, say both the Railway Protection Force and railway police officers, is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. By the time the police get down and comb the fringes of the railway line from where the stone might have been hurled, the one who threw it might be hundreds of yards away, safe and secure, planning his next move.
"More often than not, the one who pelted the stone would be from the area itself, but the people around protect him, telling us that they have no clue. Sometimes it might be some school kid who have no intention of hurting anybody, but do it just as part of juvenile pranks. Sometimes it is someone aggrieved at the railways over the removal of encroachments along the tracks. What ever may be their motive, the fact remains that arresting people involved in stone-pelting is becoming increasingly tough," said a senior RPF officer.
Cops have been employing various methods to sensitise people living along the track. JR Rathod, senior inspector, Wadala railway police station, said: "We have often raised the issue at the meetings of mohalla committee and woman's vigilance committee. We, along with committee members, frequently visit slums near the tracks and schools in slum areas to create awareness among them on the implications of pelting stones, etc."
"Whenever we received such a complaint, we intensify foot patrolling in that particular area. Our officers frequently organise awareness campaigns in slum areas and schools to educate slum dwellers and school students," said Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, Railway Protection Force (RPF), Central Railway.
Subash Gupta, president, Yatri Sangh, Mumbai said: "The railway administration should demolish slums mushrooming on either side of the tracks and rehabilitate slum dwellers."
Oct 26, 2012- Urmila Adgaonkar, 49, a female Home Guard, patrolling at Curry Road station on Central Railway, sustained severe injury on her right eye when someone travelling in a CST-bound slow local threw a hard object at her.
April 17, 2012- Vanita Hazare, 23, resident of Charkop, a female traffic constable of Malad police division, travelling in Borivli local, sustained injury below her right eye when someone threw a stone at the running the train between Andheri and Jogeshwari stations.
September 3, 2010: Pushpendra Yashpal Kumar, 25, an assistant manager with Indian Overseas Bank, Worli branch, lost his vision in his right eye after an unidentified boy flung a stone at him when he was standing near the door of the first class in a Kalyan-bound fast local, between Vikhroli and Kanjurmarg stations. He spent Rs, 36,000 on treatment of his eye in a Thane hospital.
May 8, 2010: Samiksha Sharma, 27, a marketing executive with a private company at Andheri, sustained head injuries after someone pelted a stone at her near Bhayander while she was travelling in the first class compartment of a Virar-bound local.
August 6, 2009: Ashwin Chudasama, 30, a trader, lost vision in his right eye after someone flung a stone at him when the train was passing between Jogeshwari and Goregaon stations. He spent Rs. 24, 000 on the treatment of his eye at a Kandivli hospital.
Commuters hurt in stolen pelting
Year Cases regd. Cases solved
2013 18 01
2012 16 02
2011 18 03
2010 16 Nil
2009 08 01