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Second class train passengers are also humans – Open Letter

Peoples Voice on July 2, 2015 - 7:32 pm in Society

Dear Prime Minister Modi,

The people voted you to power trusting your words that they would see better days ( Acche din aayenge ) under your rule. I do not wish to express any opinion on your performance in general ,but would like to draw your attention to a category of the poor who have been out of the focus of all politicians including yours. You might have been born poor ,but you ceased to be poor decades ago, and like all other poor turned rich have ceased to identify with them and feel for them. I am aware that you no more travel by train and are not aware of the pathetic plight of your erstwhile poor brethren who did not have your good fortune and continue to travel in the Second Class. The condition of the passengers of second class is worse than that of animals. The unreserved second class coaches have four to five times more passengers than they can accommodate. Each passenger is compelled to remain fixed wherever he or she may be sitting or standing .Only a few have the good fortune of sitting on a seat; the others sit either on the floor or remain standing for hours. Those sitting on the floor do not necessarily occupy the floor of the compartment but have to sit on the floor inside the toilet. Only God and the poor who travel in the second class know how they resist/manage the call of nature. They are subjected not only to traveling in an inhuman condition but also in a condition of utmost indignity.

Do you not feel ashamed of yourself when you claim that under your rule Indians living abroad hold their head high with pride. Please go to New Delhi Railway station and see for yourself the misery and humiliation of the second class passengers and ask yourself if you are still a proud Indian. Mr Prime Minister, you have to have a strange notion of shame and pride if you still do not feel ashamed of yourself.

Should not a government swearing in the name of the poor and promising them Achchhe din ( better days ) feel shame in talking of bullet trains and other dream projects while it cannot give the minimum facility to the passengers for which it has charged them the fare. Is it not extortion ? The poor are helpless while the Railways have the power of the State behind them ,and they use it to deny them their legal, legitimate and moral right of getting what they have paid for. There is a law against overloading in buses . Should not there be law against overcrowding in the trains ? Or should the State claim the right to extort invoking its sovereign power ?

It would be unfair to single you out for this sin and shame. The policy of serving the rich and dispensing with the poor began decades ago. During the colonial rule, the Railways had four classes : First,Second,Inter and Third .A few years after independence , they were reduced to only First and Second Classes.Since the first class was affordable only for a few, second class was The people voted you to power trusting your words made comfortable with berths in sleeper on payment. Trains only with sleeper coaches ( then sleeper was not a class but a facility for second class passengers on payment ) were also introduced .For a few years ,the poor enjoyed the benefit of independence and democracy .But our rulers( most of whom were the poor turned rich like you) could not resist the temptation of a luxurious rail journey ,and the pursuit of luxury commenced.. How many classes are there today ? 1A ,2A,3A,AC Chair Car,First Class,Sleeper Class and Second Class. Not content with adding classes in trains ,the Railways have now introduced ‘classes of trains’.To name only a few ,there are Rajdhani, Duronto, Garib Rath ( all Ac coaches for the Garib among the rich ) Premium Express, Shatabdi, Jan Shatabdi, Sampark Krantis,Super Fast Express, Mail. Express ,Jan Sadharan Express ( all unreserved second class coaches ) and passenger trains. The Railways have created a pyramid with the poor at the bottom crushed under the unbearable load of the rich and their poor brethren turned rich.

I may appear angry ,but it is not the anger of a political opponent ,but of an Indian who travels by train ,sees the inhuman condition of the second class passengers and feels guilt ,shame and helpless anger in traveling in comfort in the same train.

I have not yet concluded that you would not feel the same when you see them traveling in misery and humiliation, but the benefit of doubt would cease if I continue to find them traveling in the same misery because you cannot pretend that ‘Acche din ‘ have come for the helpless poor passengers who trusted you and voted you to power. Dont you feel that you, at least,owe them a seat for which they have paid ? Please just provide each second class passenger a seat for which you have charged them, and then give to the rich what they also have paid for instead of making the Railways a heaven for the rich and a hell for the poor, who have sent you where you are.You are beholden to the rich for the money they have given ,but you are more beholden to the poor who have given you their votes. Please show them your gratitude by just giving them a seat for which they have paid their hard earned money.

Anticipating quick action

Prabhakar Sinha

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