The Maharashtra Police had to use force to disperse a crowd of about 200 people who had gathered at the railway station and on tracks in Nalasopara, a satellite town of Mumbai. They demanded that they should be allowed to board local trains to reach their workplaces in Mumbai, about an hour away by train and two hours by road.
Members of the crowd, most of whom were wearing masks but stood very close together, started protesting after inordinate delay in arrival of state transport buses.
"About 200 people arrived on platform at Nalasopara Station in Palghar today morning as state transport bus services were disrupted. A local train was stopped by commuters at the station": news agency ANI quoted the Western Railways, which has filed a case against unknown persons under relevant sections of the Railway Act.
The situation was brought under control after officials of the Railways Police counselled the crowd.
The state capital and its many satellite towns are connected by a network of 3,000 local train services which used to ferry over 75 lakh passengers before the coronavirus lockdown till March. Currently, both the Central and the Western Railways are only running 700 services because of the need to maintain 1-metre physical distance amid the coronavirus epidemic.
Under pressure to allow more people to use the local train service, the Maharashtra government has told the Bombay High Court that lawyers can't be included in list of essential service providers because of need to follow Covid safety norms.
The clarification was given in response to a PIL which seeks to include lawyers in the list of essential service providers so they can reach courts.
The court was told that lawyers are allowed to use private vehicles to come to work, and they have to follow the rules framed by the state government.
Apart from the essential staff, only defence personnel and employees of Central Government, Income Tax, GST & Customs, and Postal Departments, nationalised banks, Mumbai Port Trust, judiciary and Raj Bhavan are allowed to travel in the local trains.
Mumbai and its surrounding areas are the worst hit by the coronavirus epidemic. On Tuesday, Maharashtra reported 8,369 new cases of which 2,977 were from the Thane division - highest in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation, under whose jurisdiction Nallasopara falls, reported 233 new cases taking its total to over 10,000 cases.