Women commuters of the suburban railway network want strict action against illegal hawkers. However, railway claims that in 2021 over 20,000 illegal hawkers were prosecuted by Mumbai divisions of both zonal railways, but the women passengers have said that they want action against every hawker entering in ladies coaches of suburban trains.
"The Railways does not allow hawkers to sell goods in local train, but anyone can see while travelling by train the hawkers sells vegetables, cosmetic, even fish and some artificial product in the train. Even during the peak hours hawkers enter ladies compartment to sell goods" said Lata Argade, General Secretary of Federation of suburban passenger associations.
"The commuter faces a problem because if anyone argues with a hawker, the other hawkers also join in the argument," she said.
Similarly, Surbhi Mishra who frequently travels between Palghar to Andheri said, "Anyone travelling via the Mumbai suburban railways is aware of the hawker's menace in the local trains, their numbers are increasing day by day."
"Hawkers generally avoid getting caught by keeping their goods in backpacks or other foldable bags. Most importantly, they hop from one train to another at stops, evading police or railway officials at stations," said a passenger activist adding that they can do so, as Mumbai suburban railway is a mostly unfenced and open line, which gives hackers easy access to stations from several places, other than the official entry and exit points.
However, the railway says that action against illegal hawkers is being taken continuously.
"15,370 illegal hawkers were prosecuted in 2021 in Mumbai Central division of Western railways," said a spokesperson of WR adding that Rs 69.9 lakh were collected from them as penalty.
Similarly, CRs Mumbai Division also prosecuted 6,525 illegal hawkers in 2021. "Action against illegal hawkers are being taken continuously, last year we collected Rs 70.20 lakh as a fine from illegal hawkers in Mumbai Division of CRs," said Anil Kumar Jain, senior public relations officer of CR adding that out of 6,526 illegal hawkers prosecuted by CRs Mumbai Division, 12 were sent to behind the bar.