Vendors overpower IRCTC staff


 However, the experience of the catering wing has been far from appetising. Insults, threats and even slaps at the hands of the vendors inside the train form a part of their daily working life.

The train leaves the City station daily at 7.30 pm and reaches Daund station in Maharashtra at 10.30 am the following day. Trouble erupts at this point and continues till the Manmad station.

“At Daund, about 60 vendors barge into train with foodstuffs and snacks. Some wield clubs and a few even have iron rods,” said a source. Though the weaponry is just intended to frighten the railway catering staff, verbal insults and slaps flow freely, he added.

“The food obtained by the catering staff from the base kitchens along platforms and stored in the pantry are sometimes thrown out by these vendors,” he states. 

A former caterer, who used to serve the public in the train just before IRCTC took over the reins, recalls that servicing in this train was dangerous.

Staff attacked

He said, “Apart from the regular problems, there were two separate incidents when our staff sustained injuries after being attacked with a knife by the vendors. We had to tend to the wounds on our own and send them home.”

He also charged that neither the railway officials nor the security police on the train responded to the pleas for assistance whenever the staff were attacked.

“Even when we nabbed and handed over some attackers to the railway police or station master, they were just let off.  We somehow managed to pull on for a year,” he added.

When questioned about the issue, Chief Regional Manager, IRCTC, SWR Division, S Gagarin said, “We are apprised of the matter and are exploring options to provide security to our catering staff.” Sengar, RPF Sub-Inspector at Daund railway station in Maharashtra said that one case was filed by IRCTC staff against unauthorised vendors for assaulting them inside the Karnataka Express on October 9.

This occurred when the train was returning from New Delhi to Bangalore, between Manmad and Ahmednagar. 

Vigilance team formed

“Out of the six involved in the attack, four managed to flee. The staff managed to lock the two inside the pantry car. The duo have been booked and are out on bail. A vigilance team has been formed to patrol the stations to nab the remaining four,” he added.

Recalling the same incident, Chief Security Commissioner, RPF, Central Railway, B S I Siddu, said he was aware of just this one fracas involving unauthorised vendors and IRCTC catering staff. He denied that it was taking place on a regular basis.

Complaints have been made to Chief Security Commissioners, Railway Police Force (RPF) of both Central Railway Division and South Western Railway (SWR) Division and response is awaited.

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