Railway security has been a major concern in the light of the bomb blasts on the Bangalore-Guwahati Express at Chennai Central Railway Station on May 1.
If security is a matter of concern on moving trains, so is it at railway stations.
Yeshwantpur Railway Station, the second busiest railway terminus in the city, has been a free-for-all with the boundary wall damaged at many places, affording multiple entry and exit points that serve as short-cuts not only to passengers but also locals residing in the vicinity.
Interestingly, while the boundary wall is damaged in parts, it is just about four feet high wherever it is intact, causing concern among the Railway Police. They have a tough time whenever they want to pin down a pickpocket given the fact that the accused can quite easily scale the short boundarywall.
Added to this, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Government Railway Police (GRP) are so short staffed that there are less than 20 men guarding the entire station at any given point of time. The RPF unit at Yeshwantpur has less than 50 men and can post only 10 at any given point to guard the station.
The Railway Police, who have a vast jurisdiction spread over a nearly 50-kilometre radius, are also entrusted with prevention and investigation of crime in the area.
They find it hard to post enough men to guard the railway station. This leaves a lot to be desired as far as security is concerned at the station. Even the multiple entry points at the station are not guarded.
Though the volume of traffic at the station has increased exponentially in the recent years, the strength allotted to RPF and GRP has not been updated for decades now.
Yeshwantpur Railway Station is the only one apart from the Bangalore City Railway Station to have CCTV cameras on its premises.
However, the 10 CCTV cameras watching over the huge volume of traffic and the vast area have proved inadequate.
Those guarding the station are hoping that their proposals to strengthen the security at the station are taken up in earnest.
More CCTV cameras are expected to be installed at the station with the number going up to 45. The station is also likely to be equipped with an X-ray baggage scanner.
However, a senior official said that even with the best of equipment and men, only random checking is possible. One cannot expect security equivalent to that at an airport in any railway station, as the large number of passengers lends it impractical.