a train pulling into a station

© Provided by The Indian Express

AFTER SPENDING 40 days in jail for travelling to work on suburban local trains illegally during the lockdown, a 19-year-old man was granted bail by the sessions court this week.

Kurla resident Alim Patel was arrested on August 20 by the Dadar railway police for travelling with fake identity papers to reach his workplace in an upholstery unit in Mahim where he stitched car seats. The police booked him under sections pertaining to cheating, forgery, impersonating a public servant, the maximum punishment for which is life imprisonment.

After being stopped following the coronavirus outbreak in March, the local train services in Mumbai had resumed from June for people employed in essential services, and central and state governments employees along with the general public disallowed to travel on them.

According to the submissions made by his lawyer, Aditya Mokashi, Patel, who lives with his family in Kurla, was bereft of any livelihood during the lockdown, making it difficult for them to make ends meet. After the government eased lockdown restrictions, Patel’s workplace reopened but he was unable to find a way to travel from Kurla to Mahim daily.

The police claimed Patel was approached by co-accused Mohammed Anis, who prepared fake documents for him stating that he is a central government employee. Patel, they said, had managed to travel on local trains for a few days before being accosted by a ticket-checker at Dadar railway station. When Patel showed the document, it was found to be fake and he was put under arrest. A magistrate’s court rejected his bail application following which an appeal was filed before the sessions court.

Mokashi, on behalf of Patel, submitted he had travelled on the train to earn a livelihood as it had become difficult to survive due to no earnings since March when the Covid 19-induced lockdown was imposed. He also submitted that Patel’s intention was not to defraud or impersonate a government employee for personal or financial gain. Mokashi also told the court that an extended stay in the jail for a youngster could have an adverse impact on him and could bring him in contact with criminal gangs. The court considered these submissions while granting him bail.

“The applicant has created a false document for his travel. The applicant is 19 years old. No criminal antecedent has been demonstrated against the applicant,” additional sessions judge B V Wagh said in his order this week granting him bail on a personal bond of Rs 15,000 with sureties.

Railway officials, so far, have found many residents in the city and its suburbs attempting to travel on local trains to get to their workplace as other forms of public transport have been taking as many as eight hours of travel daily. Officials have also been cracking down on people selling fake identity cards.

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