When it came to rescuing, and possibly preventing Friday's stampede on the foot over bridge (FOB) at Elphinstone Road railway station, Railway Protection Force (RPF) constables deployed there decided not to go above their call of duty, which apparently only involves keeping an 'eye out for criminal activity'.
RPF constable RK Singh
Speaking to mid-day, RPF constable RK Singh conveniently fobbed off his responsibility to help commuters in the tragedy that went down on the FOB. Singh claims that he was posted at Elphinstone station and couldn't do much to control the crowd, "There was one constable deployed on the FOB. His duty is to keep an eye on the criminal activity and not to control crowds. We could not have managed to control such a huge crowd."
No cop present?
However, according to eyewitnesses and people residing next to the station, not a single policeman was present at the spot at the time of the incident. Narrating the cause of the stampede, Singh said, "Since it was raining, the crowd that had reached the station stopped on the FOB. Meanwhile, commuters kept pouring in at the station and were trying to make their way through the crowd, which is when the incident occurred."
Singh said another RPF constable named Channar S was also posted with him at Elphinstone, on the flyover. But, as he tried to get out of the crowd, he got stuck. He had to stand against the FOB's fencing to save his life.
Need crowd management
Railway activist Bhavesh Patel disputes Singh's claims, "When this incident happened, not a single Government Railway Police (GRP) official was present to manage the crowd. There is a market near the station and one day before Dussehra, huge crowds come here to shop, so why didn't the police have any bandobast on the FOB?"
"The railways should form a crowd management team to manage commuters during peak hours. Throughout this entire incident, there were no instant response from the railways to save their passengers," added Patel.
'Officials were present'
When mid-day reached out to Mumbai Central GRP senior inspector D Pawar, he said, "We have already deployed three of our police officials. They were present at the time of the stampede and have looked into passenger-related issues."
RPF cops for crowds
According to RPF sources from the Central Railway, four RPF officials - three constables and one assistant sub-inspector — are deployed at the Parel station FOB during peak hours – between 7 am to 11 am and 6 pm to 10 pm. Sources also revealed that after Friday's incident, top RPF officials have asked the post in-charge to show CCTV footage of the past three to four days in order to review whether or not RPF is managing crowds.
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