Mahila Vahini to end travel woes

Published: Oct 04, 2010, 06:36 IST | Vedika Chaubey

After receiving countless complaints, the RPF plans a 232-member all-female squad to guard women in locals and stations

After receiving countless complaints, the RPF plans a 232-member all-female squad to guard women in locals and stations

If you are weary of having your commuting woes fall on deaf ears, especially if you are a woman, there is reason to rejoice a little. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has finally decided to pay heed to the umpteen grouses they get from women on the move in Mumbai's locals. It will soon induct 232 female personnel in the Mahila Vahini squad to guard female commuters on Central and Western railways.


SAFE TRAVEL: The additional women forces, called Mahila Vahini, will be
in action by the end of this month and they will be given the charge of
protecting women in trains and on station premises. REPRESENTATION PIC


Sayyed Nazima, an accountant who travels between Mumbra to Masjid daily, said the measure is desperately needed, "The current personnel at stations are of little help. Anybody enters the ladies' compartment. The policemen are too busy talking on their mobiles to take note. If we complain with the GRP, we are sent to the RPF, and vice-versa." By what Nazima and others point out, it seems that female commuters have a lot to gripe about.

But with the squad, which will be equally divided between the two lines, CR and WR, the ladies can feel secure.

The women cops will both travel in the ladies' compartment and keep a vigil at station platforms.

The Additional Senior Divisional Security Commissioner of Central Railway Vinod Kumar Dhaka said, "The additional women forces, called Mahila Vahini, will be in action by the end of this month. They have been given the charge of protecting women in trains and on station premises."

The RPF also plans to appoint an official at each station near the ladies' coach to register complaints by women commuters.

P C Sinha, the Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, CR, agrees that the measure has been long in coming. "We have been getting numerous complaints from female commuters that do not reach the proper authority. But from now on, they will be able to lodge complaints conveniently with the official concerned," said Sinha.

A businesswoman from Bandra, Suvarna V Agharkar, concedes that the squad and the official to register complaints will fill a wide lacuna in the security of women travellers. "Policemen are seldom in sight when incidents like bag snatching occur. During nighttime, we hardly find police in the ladies' compartment. Those who are there are drunk, posing a bigger problem." However, she is happy with the RPF initiative to bring additional lady forces.

The president of a passengers association called Mumbai Pravasi Sangathana, Madhu Kotian, said, "There is no security for female commuters in suburban trains. If the RPF is planning an extra force especially for women, they should go ahead with it in letter and spirit and not just in name."

Numbers game

Current RPF women forces:
CR: 114
WR: 60

Mahila Vahini squad to be added:
CR:
116
WR: 116

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