The Pakistan Railways’ passenger trains were delayed on Thursday due to the protest by the representatives of the Railway Workers Union against the Railway police and management against the arrest of their coworkers in Karachi.
The union representatives stopped work at Karachi, Hyderabad and Kotri, affecting the trains which were coming to Karachi from across the country till 12:30pm. The railway traffic from Hyderabad and Kotri stations remained suspended for over 90 minutes as sit-ins were held on the railway tracks, blocking the Tezgam Express and Awami Express from passing through both the stations. The union also held demonstrations on various stations in the districts of Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions while in Karachi, protesters shouted slogans against the police at the city station outside the Divisional Superintendent (DS) office.
The Railway police have arrested a head cleric, Noor Alam, and parcel clerk, Wahid Khan, in a fraud case for allegedly using railway employees passes for sending private people and cargo to Peshawar for free. The cargo, however, was seized in Peshawar. The Karachi DS had started inquiry into the case and had registered an FIR at the city railway police station. The railway police have been conducting raids for arresting two other employees who are allegedly involved in the case. But the union representatives claim that the police had no jurisdiction and rights to arrest the railways employees when a departmental inquiry of the case was already in progress.
“The Railway police have no right to arrest employees when a departmental inquiry is already in progress. Moreover, it was decided in our meeting with the Karachi DS and police that a departmental inquiry will be conducted but the police have started harassing our union members,” said Railway Workers union general secretary Rao Naseem. “Those involved in the case should be penalised but the police should stop harassment of our people and let the inquiry committee decide the case,” he said.
The divisional commercial officer of the Pakistan Railways Karachi refused to talk on the issue, saying that they are conducting an inquiry of the fraud to dig out the real perpetrators.
According to the police, they have arrested two clerks while two others involved in the case are absconders. “We have arrested the employees because the DS has registered an FIR with us against them and it is our duty to arrest those involved in fraud,” said Railway Police DSP Mukhtiar Ali Jato, adding that the case is under trial in the Anti-Corruption Court.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2014.