Media Ignores Farmers and Disabled Advocates Occupying Mumbai Train Station

An unexpected coalition of drought-striken farmers and disabled people brought a south Mumbai railway traffic to a standstill this week for about four hours as they occupied a station in protest, but the incident went largely unnoticed by media outlets and social media. 

Vidyut at Aam Janata reported that hundreds of disabled people from across the state and farmers from drought and flood affected regions of Vidarbha occupied Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) railway station on Wednesday, October 2, 2013.

The Asian Age reported:

The protest has been named Dera Andolan, which means all the protesters will camp themselves in the city till the government gives a time limit for fulfilling their demands.

The incident went under-reported in mainstream media, and the reasons for protesting were not explored, probably due to the lack of political clout the demonstrators have. But Vidyut suggested the possible issues of the protests:

I have no idea what the farmers were protesting, but God knows they have plenty to protest about when it comes to their conditions in Maharashtra.

The deaf-dumb people seem to be demanding for Indian Sign Language to be formally included in curriculums and recognized as an Indian language as per this photo.

The Mid-Day however reported that the government had promised financial help and a raise in pensions for the physically disabled and the needy. But with progress on that front after seven months, people protested.

Vidyut continued:

Strangely our newspapers are not interested in what could have got farmers and disabled people to travel overnight to occupy space in a train station. The one journalist who did click a photo and comment wondered if they had purchased tickets. Then wondered at the speed by which they “took over” the station. A few thousand people taking over the largest station in the city is a bit extreme considering that a single train carries several times that number easily.

Journalist Rajendra Aklekar (@rajtoday) tweeted the incident:

The Times of India reported that the protesters were met with force and now face prosecution:

A day after a mob of 2,000 farmers and physically challenged people laid siege to CST, security agencies registered criminal cases against them and are scrutinizing footage from CCTV cameras to identify the accused. The RPF has booked the protestors under the Indian Railway Act for trespass, obstructing the running of trains, obstructing railway employees in their duties, drunkenness or nuisance and endangering safety of commuters. The GRP has also booked the protestors for unlawful assembly and wrongful restraint.

Protests are common, but punishing peaceful protesters is less so. The actions of police are an unfortunate show of how those with less political muscle are easier to punish with law.

Thumbnail image courtesy Rajendra B Aklekar (@rajtoday)

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