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Thefts on long-distance trains: RPF wants helping hand from pantry staff

While the Government Railway Police do not rule out a potential threat to passengers from pantry workers, the Railway Protection Force wants staffers to keep an eye out for suspicious passengers

With the recent spate in cases of theft in long distance trains, the Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) have zeroed in on the pantry staff, for entirely different reasons.

The GRP and RPF have been employing different means to curb cases of theft, after the spate of robberies inside Rajdhani Express earlier this month. File pic
The GRP and RPF have been employing different means to curb cases of theft, after the spate of robberies inside Rajdhani Express earlier this month. File pic

While the GRP is asking for information about employees working in the pantry and contractors appointed by railways, the RPF is planning to collaborate with them, to act as their eyes and ears inside the trains and observe any suspicious activity of passengers.

Even as GRP officials claim that people working in the pantry can also be considered a threat for passengers, their request might not go down well with the railways.

“We will be writing to railway officials to provide us details about the pantry staff and contractors supplying food inside long distance trains,” informed Ravindra Singhal, GRP commissioner. According to sources, the aim is to get information about people who travel in these trains, as in most cases, caterers employ labourers to get the food inside and sell it to passengers.

Since the jurisdiction of the GRP ends within their state, officials say it becomes challenging for them to pinpoint the exact location where the case of theft has occurred in the moving train. “We want the railways to allow us to travel on the entire route of long distance trains,” said another GRP official.

Assisting RPF
On the other hand, struggling with limited manpower, the RPF wants to rope in the pantry staff to help keep an eye on unscrupulous passengers. “Since they cover all coaches, they can differentiate between the regular passengers and notorious ones,” explained an RPF officer.

Officials also plan to deploy personnel on Ratlam-Kota and Ratlam-Vadodara stretches, for trains running between Mumbai and Delhi, to observe passengers alighting and boarding the train at night.

Different responsibilities
RPF: A security force directly under the Ministry of Railways, the RPF is responsible for protecting and safeguarding railway property and assets, including rolling stock, station or yard premises, from damage or sabotage, and to investigate incidents of vandalism, theft, etc. GRP: The GRP is a police unit under the state government.

It is responsible for the maintenance of law and order and to ensure passenger safety. The GRP concerns itself with robberies or other criminal incidents on trains or railway premises, missing persons, injuries or deaths in connection with the railways.

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