Mumbai: Women commuters worried about safety after train guards' 'vanishing act'
Commuters raise safety concerns as constables posted in ladies compartments on locals fail to complete their trips and get off at random stations before the trains reach their terminus
Policemen posted in ladies compartments of local trains aren't in it for the long haul, quite literally. Several women commuters have complained that on trains bound for Kasara and Karjat, the personnel get down midway, leaving them in the lurch in the middle of the night.
Sanchita Jadhav, a beautician, travels every day between Thane and Kasara, and reaches Kasara station around 1.20 am, on her way home. "I once had a fight with a GRP personnel, who was posted in the train I take to go home. He would always get down at Kalyan or Shahad station. One day, when it was just me and another woman in the compartment, I tried to stop him from alighting at his usual station. I told him to complete the trip or I would complain to his senior. He started arguing with me and asked me to shift to the gents compartment. He then told me not to worry because he travelled on this train daily and no man had ever attempted to get into the ladies compartment. But my point is that if they are doing night shift, why can't they complete their duty instead of asking us to shift?" she said.
Inefficiency at its peak
The police instructed that one personnel be present in every ladies compartment on late-night trains after several crimes against women, including chain-snatching, robbery and even molestation and rape, with anti-social elements taking advantage of a lone woman commuter by barging into the compartment.
Dr Pushpa Sherle had a similar horror story to share. "The cop posted in my compartment always got down before Ulhasnagar to catch the last CST train home. One day, after he left, two drunk men got into my compartment. Thankfully, men in the adjoining compartment saw and asked the two to get down at the next station. After this incident, I called up the GRP helpline, but no one answered. That policeman was posted in my compartment again later, but he did the same thing.
"If a miscreant enters my compartment on seeing me alone with no cop in sight, who is responsible for what he might do? Almost 99% GRP personnel and home guards do this every night. It's shameful that the police don't want to do their duty efficiently."
The other side
GRP DCP Samadhan Pawar said, "I need to check why our constables are doing this. I will discuss the problem with them. Also, we have recently added home guards to the team. I will make sure to find out the reason behind their behaviour and solve whatever their issues might be. If then also the situation does not change, we will take appropriate action."
Constables spill the beans, and then back-track
Total distance: 67.26 km
Travel time: 1 hour, 47 min (10.43 pm to 12.30 am)
This 28-year-old GRP constable, who leaves duty midway by getting down at Kopar station every night, said, "I work for over 12 hours, as my shift starts at 9 am. I get down at Kopar to catch the last CST-bound train to get home in Kalwa. There is no place to stay back in Badlapur; it throws my sleep and schedule completely off track."
When this correspondent told him she was a journalist, he muttered, "I am not feeling well today, that's why I am going back. Otherwise, I make sure to complete my duty."
Total distance: 48.94 km
Travel time: 1 hour, 20 min (10.06 pm to 11.26 pm)
The 42-year-old GRP personnel gets down at Nerul most of the time. "Women in the first class ladies compartment don't need a guard. It is a video coach. I always tell the men in the adjoining compartment while getting down to keep an eye on the ladies coach and help the women, if needed," he said. When this correspondent identified herself, he said, "We don't have facilities to stay in at the last station. If we are doing night duty, government should think about these things. We don't get water in the night even for toilet; hence, we prefer to go home."
Total distance: 114.24 km
Travel time: 2 hours, 17 minutes (11.18 pm to 1.35 am)
The next home guard, 23, mid-day spoke to always gets down at Kalyan station. "I am scared to stay in Khopoli. Once, I reached Khopoli around 2 am and couldn't find any place to sleep. So, I slept on a bench; in the morning, I saw that my purse and shoes had been stolen. I felt embarrassed to report it to the police. Since then, I have been getting down at Kalyan and taking a bus to reach home in Dombivli," he said.
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