Raghava M. and Anil Kumar Sastry

Under-staffed police get unexpected bonanza

BANGALORE: Here is good news for railway passengers who, of late, have been victims of robbery, luggage lifting and drugging inside trains and within railway stations.

The Karnataka Government Railway Police (GRP), a division of the State Police which looks after passenger safety, had sought the Railway Board’s approval to add 288 posts. The Railways on its own is thinking of increasing the number of police personnel to 747.

At present, the strength of GRP in Karnataka is 860. These personnel take care of 356 railway stations, according to K.H. Sreenivasan, DIG (GRP).

Mr. Sreenivasan told The Hindu that GRP had submitted a proposal in October 2003 to the Railway Board seeking its clearance to enhance the strength of the force by 288 personnel. While 262 personnel were sought for South Western Railway (SWR), the remaining were for other Railway zones that have their network within the State.

As the expenditure towards the force is equally shared by the board and the State Government, concurrence of the board was essential, he said.

While the State Government did not have any reservation and cleared the proposal, the Railway Board had sought the opinion of four Railway zones which operate in Karnataka.

Since much of the State is covered by SWR, except some parts of north and north-east Karnataka, the board was awaiting the concurrence of the General Manager of the SWR.

Sources in the SWR said that the process was on to create 747 new posts in the GRP.

“There had been a long delay in assessing and clearing the proposal submitted by the GRP. By the time, the volume of passengers and the resultant threats have increased manifold prompting the SWR to increase the number of posts to match the present requirement,” the sources said.

Mr. Sreenivasan said the GRP had been finding it difficult to cope with the current workload.

They have the responsibility of tracking inter-State gangs of robbers, ensure safety of passengers within and outside trains and perform escort duties which kept the personnel always on the move.

The number of railway platforms have increased substantially and the presence of GRP personnel was essential on every platform round-the-clock.

“We have been discharging the duties with difficulty with the available strength,” he remarked.

In 2007, when a worker was returning to his home-state West Bengal with his hard earned money, four men stabbed him to death on board a train and decamped with Rs. 70,000 in cash near the Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station.

On May 19, the GRP personnel arrested two persons who were carrying 3.9 kg gold worth Rs. 60 lakh without proper documents at the Bangalore City Railway Station.