Just days after the Government Railway Police (GRP) dusted off a 19-year-old order that says the rival central Railway Protection Force (RPF) must tend to track injuries and deaths, the negative effects are already showing on ground.
Early on Friday morning, a 21-year-old fell off a moving train and lay bleeding for several minutes as both GRP and RPF personnel stood around him, bickering about which force should rush the commuter to hospital.
Witnesses said there was bickering between the two railway police personnel and the Thane station master due to the new letter on who should take the responsibility of shifting victims to hospital.
The injured man, identified as Sunil Pal, 21, was eventually shifted by the GRP to KEM Hospital and is now stable. Railway officials said such incidents have been on the rise in the three day since the GRP issued the letter, citing an old order.
The GRP letter to station masters dated August 14, a copy of which is with mid-day, says the task of shifting injured victims to hospitals should be done by the Railway Protection Force at respective stations and the GRP should be informed of it once the victim is shifted.
The letter cities the 'RPF Standing Orders' dated April 1998, with the subject "Arranging medical help to railway passengers".
Point 4 of the order says the RPF should take personal responsibility to shift injured victims to hospital and then inform the Government Railway Police.
"There is a tendency to refer such cases to the GRP first who might insist on written complaints before attending to the injured persons. It is often forgotten that immediate medical aid to the injured must be our upper-most priority," the standing order clarifies.
It, however, adds that any railway functionary or any citizen, on humanitarian considerations, rush the injured passengers to the nearest hospital.
While GRP Commissioner Niket Kaushik did not respond to calls, officials from his team strongly refuted the point that there was a delay on Friday due to them.
"GRP officials have always been prompt and helpful while dealing with victims. It is unfair to allege that delays happened because of the GRP procedures," the official said.
Senior Divisional Security Commissioner of RPF with Mumbai division of Central Railway Sachin Bhalode said the issue of shifting of injured victims should not arise in first place.
"The order says it is the moral duty of all citizens to help the injured, not just people in uniform. Help in the Golden Hour is the most crucial thing. The Railway Protection Force is always there to do all the necessary things and help out victims and passengers in all instances."
Thane railway senior police inspector Uttam Sonawane, who is also the letter issuing authority for Thane zone, said there was no delay in shifting the victim at Thane on Friday morning.
"As per the new orders, we tried to get RPF for help but after they refused saying they do not have any orders from their superiors, we took charge of the case and shifted the victim immediately without any time loss," he said. "There have been such instances of bickering recently since the new GRP letter as we have been asking RPF teams to help out, but they have been persistently refusing. However, we have given strict warning to our team that the victims must not suffer and that there must not be any delay while shifting them."
Railway activist Bhawesh Patel said that the GRP letter has been issued due to misinterpretation of the standing orders. "How can any government body issue such a letter? The standing orders already mention that all citizens should be acting promptly in such cases on humanitarian grounds. The allegation that GRP wastes time in paperwork in the standing order is also incorrect. I have myself shifted more than 500 railway victims with the help of GRP and there were never any issues," he said.
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