Don’t dare take on someone bigger than you at the railway station hoping for a security guard to watch your back. You might just end up looking stupid.
That’s because the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has been facing a staff crunch and is unable to position adequate number of personnel at stations.
Every day there are complaints of squabbles at ticket counters, but many go unchecked because of the manpower shortage.
According to RPF officials, the queues at the ticket counters start building up around 3 am, and often passengers try to jump the line.
“There have been some major fights last year at the reservation counters. While all the cases are not reported, hundreds of instances were recorded. Our men break up minor disputes on the spot and release the passengers after giving them a warning,” said an official.
Mahim Swamy, chief security commissioner, RPF (WR), said, “We have asked for more staff as we are facing a crunch. We hope to increase our numbers soon, which will allow us to deploy more people at the counters.”
In May, RPF was provided with 125 Home Guards by the government, out of which, around half were female.
“We had demanded that only 10 per cent of the guards be female, but they were sent to us in large numbers. We cannot deploy them on long-distance trains or at trespassing points. Still, we are writing letters for more personnel, with plans to prioritise the reservation counters this time,” he added.
The reservation counters need one guard per queue, but often a single RPF guard at is left to handle the hundreds of passengers that come in every hour.
“There are ticket agents too, who skip the queues whenever security guards aren’t around, which leads to a ruckus with other passengers,” said Swamy.
RPF has nearly 10,000 vacancies nationwide. On the Western line, the sanctioned strength for the Mumbai division is 2,200, and there are 630 vacancies. On the Central line, the sanctioned strength is 2,408, but there are 609 vacancies. Out of the 630, WR has got a sanction for 300 Home Guards.