There wasn’t a single instance of violence or stampede: IGP
On Independence Day, when thousands of people of northeast origin descended on the Bangalore City Railway station, desperate to travel to Guwahati, the situation was overwhelming, not just for the South Western Railway (SWR) authorities but also the Government Railway Police (GRP).
While SWR went on an overdrive to issue tickets and arrange additional trains by sourcing coaches from its own and neighbouring zones to ensure people are not stranded, the GRP found itself stretched to handle the swelling crowds.
Though short-staffed, the GRP ensured that the jumpy crowd did not panic during the exodus. Over the next four days, more than 26,000 people boarded eight special trains to go to Guwahati and thence to their homes after rumours of impending attacks rattled them.
‘No intelligence input’
In a chat with The Hindu, Bhaskar Rao, Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Internal Security, who also holds concurrent charge of the post of IGP, Railways, said: “There wasn’t a single instance of violence or stampede, which would have happened if adequate precautionary measures were not taken. The exodus came as a surprise to us as there was no intelligence input.”
Meticulous planning helped both the police and SWR authorities maintain order. As there was shortage of GRP personnel, he had sought additional forces. The State police chief arranged for five platoons (one platoon comprises 32 personnel) of Karnataka State Reserve Police.
Having camped at the station premises after getting the information about the abnormal passenger volume towards Guwahati by August 15 afternoon, Mr. Rao said mere deployment of additional forces was not enough.
“We briefed them on their roles and divided the City Railway Station into four zones — the entrance, passenger concourse, Platform 4 and the train — and assigned them specific duties.”
Potential stampede was pre-empted with police personnel regulating the crowd right from the ticket counter till the platform through barricades.
“Everyone on the platform wanted to board the train as soon as it arrived. We posted one constable in each coach to ensure people boarded only when the train came to a halt and prevented them hanging on to window railings and doors.”
Mr. Rao said SWR officials, right from Divisional Railway Manager Anil Kumar Agarwal, Senior Divisional Commercial Manager N. Ramesh, Senior Divisional Operations Manager Praveen Pande, Senior Divisional Safety Officer Anwar Hussain to those at the lower levels were extremely helpful and coordinated well to handle the emergency.