1997. It was the period of Membership Verification in Telecom Employees Employees Union Class III. The question was which is the correct E.III Union, headed by V.A.N.Namboodiri or by M.B.Vichare? Continued tours were being organised by both the groups to ensure their own victory.
I had been touring district by district in circles along with other leading comrades. The tour in Bihar circle was decided from 2nd June 1997. I started from Delhi on 1st with with the scheduled arrival of the train at about 10.00 hours next day. I could not get any reservation. Delhi Patna route is one of the busiest in the country. And to get reservation ticket, you had to be in the queue for many hours. No time. Another secret. Reservation will cost more, which the union was not able to spend in that difficult time of financial crisis. Somehow managed the night by sitting.
A meeting was arranged at Patna at noon and I had to go to Ranchi by 19.00 hours train. But by about 09.00 hours in the morning the train halted at a very small station. Even after about half an hour, there was no sign of train moving. People got down in the platform. On enquiry, it was found that there was a murder at Bhimapur and a bandh has been declared resulting in all the trains halted wherever they had reached. Trains were being picketted also.
I had not taken breakfast with the hope that it can be taken after reaching Patna and a good bath. It became certain that hours will take for the block to be cleared and train to start. It was such a small station, there was not even a tea shop. About half a furlong away two small tea shops were seen. Along with two others rushed there, took tea and two tasteless biscuits which was only what was available.
Waited and waited. At last the train started. Reached Patna Station at about 20.00 hours. It was difficult to get down, as the platform was full of people. Trains were in all the platforms. Somehow got down with my heavy suit case with dresses, books etc. Even to move an inch forward was impossible. It was 7th or 8th platform and I had to go out to meet our friends there. Mobile services have started only a few months back and of course none of us had mobile phones. Whether our comrades will be there was also not known. Some how I climbed the stairs and was slowly moving to the first platform. The rush became so thick that I thought that I will be crushed to death. I even thought of throwing the suitcase on the track and jumping afterwards, which was suicidal. At that moment a burly railway porter with many bags in head was moving the same way. I managed to get directly behind him. I was saved. I walked behind him and without any casualty. Reached first plat form. Went to RMS office. Our comrades were waiting there. Noon meeting already missed.
Our train to Ranchi which was to start at 1900 will be ready to start by 21.00 hours. Took some tiffin. Started for the concerned platform. I felt relieved as there was help now. The train was ready. Our comrades took me to the RMS compartment since there was no chance to get in any other compartment. The RMS comrades arranged two berths inside. I was so tired, I lied down.
But another trouble. A policemen came to the compartment and asked the RMS sorters to allow their superior officer and family to get in and occupy the berths. Sorters told the berths are occupied. The policeman brought TTE to verify, whether we are sorters. TTE verified and we were safe. But in every station, postal bags were put in and the space was being cramped.
After three four stations again policemen came with Railway officials to create trouble. I told our comrades ‘let us go to other compartment. No need to make trouble for our RMS comrades’. Since the front doors were blocked by the police, we got down by the backside and entered the next compartment and somehow got seats. The Railway officials entered the RMS compartment, but we were not there.
Next day we reached Ranch. The tour continued in that part of Bihar, which later became Jharkhand state.