GRP, RPF get a shot in the arm

A day after a 23-year-old nurse was saved from the clutches of a drunkard who tried to rape her in a moving train around 5.45 am on Saturday morning, it appears that the railway authorities have finally woken up from their slumber and taken a serious note of its understaffed security forces -- the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF).

More the better: Armed RPF men guard a train compartment reserved for handicapped commuters on a Churchgate-bound local at Goregaon railway station. File pic

The Indian Railways claimed that about 12,000-odd men would be added to the GRP and the RPF throughout the country, and a sizeable number would be allotted to the Mumbai Division for manning suburban trains, where crime against women commuters is on the rise.

Sources said the additional force would be recruited soon. “We have initiated the process of recruiting more men in our forces. New constables will be recruited within six months or so,” a senior official said.

As per procedure, the new recruits would be divided among different zones on the Indian Railways, including the Central Railway (CR) and the Western Railway (WR).

In addition, officials recently cleared the decks for the addition of over 500 sub-inspectors, including 100 female officers, following which they will be posted at suburban railway stations and trains.

2,000 men needed: GRP
GRP officials say they need at least 2,000 men to ensure proper manning of ladies’ compartments in all the local trains. Some accused the railways of showing little interest in expediting the process.

Presently, around 350 personnel from the railways are working in night shifts in trains and at stations. A sanction from the state government and the railway board is a must for hiring new recruits, as both bear the expenditure for the force equally.

“A comprehensive proposal with reference to safety of women commuters, both for day and night shifts, has been submitted to the railway board. The proposal advocates use of private security guards till the time permanent staff is recruited,” GRP Commissioner Prabhat Kumar said.

At present, the existing staffers work in two shifts and cover the two coaches reserved for women at the ends of the train, leaving the middle ladies’ compartment unguarded. Officials said this was due to shortage of manpower.

Others even complained about the non-functioning CCTV cameras and the poor quality of footage recorded by the ones that are functional. 

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