A senior railway station manager in Pallavaram was thrashed by around 50 railway staff members attached to the southern railway mazdoor union (SRMU), who also ransacked his office, on Wednesday.
Railway sources said that, on December 21, M. Venketaramani, a station master at the Pallavaram railway station, got two days of special casual leave on December 23 and 24 to attend a meeting of the SRMU subject to the conditions that his service could be spared with adequate station masters available for duty and that it was duly approved by his immediate senior officer, in this instance the senior station manager.
However, of the other five station masters attached to the Pallavaram railway station, three were unavailable for duty during the period and two were already in-charge at Pallavaram and Meenambakkam. As a result, the senior station manager, S. Murugesan denied Venketaramani the leave.
Upset over the denial of leave, Venketaramani asked the senior station manager to mark him absent for the two days. Subsequently, Murugesan marked him absent when Venketaramani did not report for work. However, when Venketaramani reported for duty a day later, he noticed the marks in the attendance register against his name and got agitated.
“The station master argued with the senior station manager despite the latter explaining to him that he couldn’t do anything if a staff member was absent,” said a railway official, who was present during the altercation.
On Wednesday, around 6 p.m., Venketaramani along with around 50 members of the SRMU thrashed the senior station manager and ransacked his office by breaking his wooden name-plate and some furniture. He was also threatened. This occurred in the presence of a large number of commuters waiting to board a train and a handful of Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel.
“We were scared to see the large number of railway union members thrashing the station manager. They also shouted at commuters, who tried to intervene, and asked them to mind their work,” said A. Suriya, a commuter.
Neither the RPF personnel at Pallavaram railway station nor higher railway officials came to the rescue of the senior station manager. Instead, they suggested that the station manager arrive at a compromise with the union members.
Further, according to the manager, complaints were registered with the divisional operating manager, senior division operating manager (headquarters) and Southern Railway (traffic–headquarters) but no action has been taken so far.
“We have received information about the incident. The matter will be investigated,” said a senior railway official.