Theft of passenger belongings on rise in Railways

New Delhi: Despite continuous efforts to curb crime at trains and rail premises, the number of theft cases of train passengers' belongings is on constant rise for the last three years.

There were 5,174 theft cases of passengers' belongings in 2012, which rose to 6,258 in 2013 and the number increased further to 7,606 in 2014, according to Railway Ministry data.

Maximum theft incidents occurred in West Central Railway zone with 1,754 cases, followed by 1,281 cases in the Central Railway zone and 1,008 such cases in the South Central Railway zone in 2014.

"Safety and security of passengers is our utmost concern and crime at rail premises is certainly a cause of concern for us. Continuous efforts are on to prevent theft and other crime at stations and at trains," said a senior Railway Ministry official.

The drugging menace, however, is on the decline as 496 such cases were reported in 2012, which decreased to 352 in 2013 and 324 in 2014.

We have undertaken a constant vigil and awareness campaign against the drugging of passengers on trains, the official said.

Maximum 66 drugging cases were reported in the Eastern Railway zone in 2014.

The Railways witnessed 235 cases of loot and robbery in 2014 as against 261 in 2013.

The official, however, maintained that prevention of crime, registration of cases, their investigation in railway premises as well as on running trains are the statutory responsibility of the state police which they discharge through Government Railway Police (GRP) of the state government.

Railway Protection Force (RPF), which is under Railways, supplements the efforts of GRP by deploying their personnel for escorting important trains in crime-sensitive areas and access control duties at stations.

Currently, about 1,300 trains are escorted by RPF in addition to about 2,200 trains escorted by GRP on daily basis.

In order to create a more effective security mechanism, Railway Ministry has moved a proposal for amendment in the RPF Act 1957, with the approval of Law Ministry, which is expected to empower the RPF to deal with serious crimes.

There is a need to replace the prevailing three-tier security system of RPF, GRP and district police with two tier system of RPF and district police to ensure effective and seamless passenger security, he said.

Railways have written to all state governments seeking their consent on the proposal keeping the interest of passengers in mind.

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