New Delhi, May 8: The first day of the Railway strike presented a rather confusing picture with conflicting reports pouring in from all over the country about the nature and extent of the dislocation caused by the work stoppage in various regions. Though it is too early to assess the impact of the strike, the Railway Ministry continued to assert that both passenger and goods services were being maintained in an attenuated form, while the Action Committee described the railwaymen’s response to the strike call as something “unprecedented in the annals of railway trade union movement.” Since the Government had drastically cut down the Railway services, it was difficult to test the veracity of the official claims that the “generally poor” response of the railwaymen had already proved that by and large the strike was a big flop except in some isolated pockets dominated by the CPM-controlled unions. But it was conceded by the Government that in the big metropolitan areas of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, the Railway strike had more or less paralysed normal life. There were reports of widespread dislocation of passenger services in some of the Railway zones, but the basic goods train transporting coal, oil and other essential commodities were being operated by skeleton staff with heavy armed escorts.

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