Mitra Yojana aims at involving the public in railway security, says

R. Rajaram

According a thrust to the community policing measure for improving railway security, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) authorities are now in the process of enlisting the cooperation of people from different walks of life in their ‘RPF Mitra Yojana’ initiative.

This effort has been undertaken to widen their information and intelligence network in order to prevent crimes on board trains and in railway premises.

The RPF has decided to enlist the cooperation of select non-governmental organisations associated with the Railways besides those with aptitude for public service and genuine concern for the safety of rail passengers.

When the initiative was launched last year, the authorities had especially sought the cooperation of those persons who had received timely assistance from the security personnel at some point of time in their crime prevention efforts.

The RPF established contacts with such ‘beneficiaries’ appealing to them to alert their field-level security personnel immediately in case they came across any information that would enable the force to prevent crimes on board trains and in railway premises and thwart any possible sabotage attempt.

Now, the RPF has begun to enlist the cooperation of people from different walks of life also in its Mitra Yojana initiative, say the authorities.

Conceptualised by the RPF top brass in New Delhi, the objective behind the ‘RPF Mitra Yojana’ is to involve people in the efforts taken by the security agency to prevent and detect crimes; widen the information network and improve the image of the force.

Ever since the initiative was launched in all the railway divisions falling under the Southern Railway limits, as many as 83 ‘beneficiaries’ had come forward, says Chief Security Commissioner, RPF, Southern Railway G.M.P Reddy. The assistance rendered by the security personnel were in helping the passengers in retrieval of their belongings, rescuing and handing over the missing children to their respective parents, medical help and rescuing people during mishaps.

In Tiruchi Division alone, 13 such ‘beneficiaries’ had expressed their willingness to help the RPF, while in Chennai division 20 beneficiaries were willing to be part of the initiative. In Palakkad Division, 26 beneficiaries had been identified while it was 12 each in the case of Madurai and Thiruvananthapuram Divisions, said RPF officials.

Identity cards had been issued to the RPF ‘Mitras’ (friends of RPF) with whom the field-level security personnel were maintaining contacts and interacting at periodic intervals. Such interactions are being held in each Division, said Mr. Reddy adding that this was being done to respond speedily in case of information received from them.

Increase in passengers as well as in the number of trains over the years had made the task more challenging for the RPF. “A total of 350 RPF personnel provide escort in 196 trains including 111 express trains in Southern Railway every day,” said Mr. Reddy.

The RPF authorities are also bringing about attitudinal change among their field level security personnel to their valid inputs. Security related awareness was also being created through distribution of pamphlets in all Divisions. Feedbacks were being ascertained from the public regarding the functioning of the RPF, say the authorities.