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Railway guardians need to gel better

Anand Haridas and
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Crimes aboard trains can be curbed if RPF, GRP remain alert

Crimes, incidents of misbehaviour and liquor consumption in trains and railway stations can be curbed if more Railway Protection Force (RPF), Government Railway Police (GRP), and Railway personnel are deployed. They also have to be more alert and coordination better, according to security officials.

Many antisocial elements masquerade as beggars and garner information on vulnerable passengers. Passengers, including railway personnel, who consume intoxicants create problems, said a senior Railway official.

“Till the recent clampdown on drinking, trains such as the Chennai-Thiruvananthapuram Mail were mini bars. Many passengers bring soft drinks laced with liquor. Some railway personnel on duty too connive with these passengers. All these prompted the RPF to tighten monitoring in passenger trains.”

Positive results

It was also found that out of 18 persons who fell to death from moving trains recently, 15 were heavily drunk. “Checking using breath analyser is not mandatory for all passengers. A positive fall-out of the drive is that instances of theft have come down since,” K.J. Joy, Commissioner, RPF, told The Hindu .

As a senior RPF official noted, using railway services in an inebriated condition is punishable under Section 145 (a) of the Railway Act and hence the drive is not something new. As the clause was not generally evoked, cases were registered under Sections 145 (b) and (c) for creating nuisance and misusing amenities. The RPF had registered 2,411 cases against those who caused nuisance to others in 2011, and 150 so far this year.

On some Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs) being pulled up for misbehaving with women, a GRP official said that this was largely because many officials in the Thiruvananthapuram Division had the tacit support of politicians and trade unions. He said GRP personnel (who are recruited from the State Police) should be trained better, and motivated, since the garner local-level information. The GRP's role is crucial since it is empowered to register and probe into penal offences such as murder and theft. The RPF's primary responsibility is to protect Railway property. “We have frequent coordination meetings with the RPF and this has ensured better intelligence gathering and enforcement,” said the GRP officer.

GRP seeks funds

On the Railways' reluctance to issue duty passes to more GRP personnel, he said this could be because it would have to set aside funds to bear half the expenses of the GRP personnel posted on trains. “Our personnel need better offices and resting places too,” he said. Lack of manpower could be overcome to some extent if surveillance cameras were installed in more railway stations.

The RPF added 95 more personnel — circle inspectors to constables — after Soumya, a passenger, was pushed off the train, raped, and killed last year.

The force is planning to recruit more. This, in a way, is an admission that RPF did not have enough hands, thus justifying the demand by State Police to issue duty passes to its men to be posted on trains.

Role of local police

Taking into account the recent attacks on women passengers, the State police have begun to post personnel from local stations on trains. “They have been assisting the RPF by conducting joint patrols, especially in women's coaches,” a passenger said.

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