Violent demonstrations against the Agnipath recruitment scheme cost the Indian railways not just in terms of damages caused to railway property, but also in terms of refund of tickets.
In North Eastern Railways (NER) division, the worst affected zone of railways, the authorities have initiated a refund of ₹4 crore so far against the ticket cancellations.
At Lucknow Junction alone around 14,000 tickets were cancelled against which the refund of ₹69,000 was initiated to the train passengers.
In order to make up for the losses, the NER is mulling seeking recovery of the losses incurred during the agitation. For this purpose, it is calculating its total losses, officials said.
In Prayagraj division, that is also among the worst hit divisions under North Central Railways (NCR), the railways have initiated refund of more than ₹90 lakh against cancellation of tickets.
The numbers tell their own story.
On June 17, 1,914 tickets were canceled at Prayagraj Junction and other stations of Prayagraj division. Against this, the Railways returned ₹12 lakh. Likewise, in lieu of 3,986 tickets that were canceled on June 18, the Railways had to refund ₹24 lakh.
On June 19 also, 4,100 tickets were canceled and the railways was forced to refund ₹27 lakh to the passengers.
Till June 20 evening, 2,312 ticket cancellations of all classes were done under Prayagraj division and this figure increased during the night. Against these, the Railways had to refund more than ₹30 lakh.
Even on June 21, this process did not stop. From morning till evening, there were long queues of people wishing to get their tickets cancelled.
Officials said these figures do not comprise online ticket cancellations as those details are computed on monthly basis.
“Railways suffered huge losses in this agitation, both in terms of damage caused to the property as well as financial losses whose exact numbers would be much more if online ticket cancellations are also taken into account,” a senior railway official said.
Officials said the Agnipath stir affected movement of more than 2500 trains of NCR. Besides, around 100 trains on Prayagraj route had to be cancelled, they added.
“Many trains had to be cancelled owing to the violent agitations against “Agnipath scheme”, including those passing through the Prayagraj division. Thus, cancellation of tickets took place in large numbers and we had to make big refunds as per norms,” the officials said.
The officials however said that the situation was returning to normal. “We are moving towards normalcy both in terms of operation of trains and ticket cancellations, whose numbers were going down now,” said Amit Singh, public relation officer of Prayagraj division of NCR.
“At NER, we have initiated refund of ₹4 crores so far. These refunds were against ticket cancellations. However, things are now coming back to normal,” said Pankaj Kumar Singh, chief public relation officer (CPRO), NER.
Other than NER and NCR, no major cancellations were reported in Northern Railways (NR) that remained least affected during protest.