Faced with a shortage of staff in curbing trespassing on railway lines and the need to boost its security presence at vital stations, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) from the Western Railway (WR) division had requested additional personnel. But what they got in return has baffled them. The demand was for 300 personnel with a 10 per cent request for female staff. However, the severely understaffed force, which has a vacancy of 630, received 125 Home Guards, out of which more than 50 per cent were female. “We have no idea why they sent us so many female Home Guards when we asked for only 10 per cent? When we enquired, we were told that they don’t have enough male Home Guards,” said a RPF official, on condition of anonymity.
According to RPF officials, they demanded more male staff, so that they could position them at accident-prone trespassing spots, and other vital places. Moreover, with the vacation season on, and the rush on long-distance trains increasing, the need for male staff was essential. Besides being in charge of protecting railway property, passengers and passengers’ areas, RPF personnel have to escort long-distance trains, which are deemed unfit for onboard female staff unless accompanied by male staff. Ideally, one or two male RPF staff escort long-distance trains.
The RPF escorts in the long distance trains are equipped with walkie-talkies, arms and FIR forms to assist passengers. The official said that they cannot place female staff in long-distance trains as they are unable to do a few jobs that their male counterparts can do easily. Mahim Swamy, Chief Security Commissioner, WR (RPF), said, “We demanded 300 Home Guards to place them at different places. Out of this, we asked that 10 per cent be female staff. But we have been given more than what we asked for. Nonetheless, we will be getting more male staff soon.”
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, Western Railway has got the sanction for 300 Home Guards.