Four days after the Maharashtra government allowed women to travel on suburban local trains, Union Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on Tuesday said that the move would come into effect from October 21.
“I am happy to announce that Railways will allow women to travel on suburban trains from 21 Oct between 11 am to 3 pm & after 7 pm. We were always ready and with the receipt of letter from Maharashtra Govt today, we have allowed this travel,” Mr. Goyal tweeted.
The announcement comes after Maharashtra Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar sent a reminder to the Central Railway and the Western Railway.
“The State government vide the above mentioned letters had communicated that all the women commuters with a valid ticket may be allowed to board trains during the non-peak hours (11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and again 7 p.m. onwards till the end of local services for that day) as per the discussion held between the representatives of all stakeholders, including the State and the Railways,” the letter from Mr. Kumar said.
“However, the implementation of the joint decision is yet to be initiated,” he added.
The Central government’s decision, however, followed a political slugfest with the Congress accusing the BJP of playing dirty politics.
“There have been four meetings with Railways officials: first in September, second on October 9, and third and fourth on October 13. In the last meeting, Railways officers deliberated with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and police officials for two-and-a-half hours. All aspects were discussed and a decision to implement the move on October 17 was taken. But on October 16, the Railways backed out and started talking about the Railway Board permission,” State Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant said.
Mr. Sawant claimed that the announcement by Mr. Goyal came after pressure was put on his department by the State government and the Congress. “Earlier, the Railways was giving flimsy reasons to not allow women commuters. Now, the Union minister says that the decision has been taken based on the Chief Secretary’s letter. That means there were no real issues but only dirty politics by the BJP to delay the announcement,” he said.