Mumbai: Youngsters perform stunts despite GRP, RPF ensuring safety on local trains

Aug 12, 2018, 07:50 IST | Rahul Mahajani and Suraj Ojha

GRP and RPF officers work tirelessly to ensure youngsters stay away from dangerous stunts on trains, but there are always a stubborn few

Mumbai: Youngsters perform stunts despite GRP, RPF ensuring safety on local trains
Rohit Chaurasiya and his friend filmed themselves performing dangerous stunts and robbing a commuter

Mohammed Shakil Khan, 33, lost his left arm 10 years ago. Not by accident, but as a result of a stunt gone wrong on the railway tracks at Kurla. He now tells youngsters to stay away from risky behaviour.

Khan says he grew up in Kurla and used to watch his seniors do it. "The stunts were running on the roof, sitting in between compartments and climbing from the window to change bogies while the train was in motion," he said.

Khan remembers the day in May 2008, when he was running alongside a moving train and the stunt was to cross the train mid-way. His shirt got stuck and he lost his hand. "I was hospitalised for two months and had to be operated twice. My parents spent a lot of money," he said. Today, Khan, a married man with two kids, sells spectacles at Kurla station.

Mohammed Shakil Khan
Mohammed Shakil Khan

Jail time for stunts
Rohit Chaurasiya, 20, is one of the five youths who filmed themselves performing dangerous train stunts and even snatched a mobile phone from a commuter recently. Four of his accomplices are still in jail, while Chaurasiya managed to get bail on medical grounds. "I used to stay in Mankhurd and take a train for my school in Kurla. I would watch others doing stunts and copied them," he told mid-day, adding that he used to find it difficult to stop. But, a wake-up call came on August 2, when the police came knocking on his door and he was arrested. He now says he'll never do it again.

Harbour line nuisance
While youngsters perform stunts on all three suburban railway lines, the Harbour line from CSMT to Panvel has emerged the most notorious. Police officials told mid-day that these youngsters are mostly from slum pockets of Kurla and Reay Road. Another thing was that they were mostly minors and nearly 40 per cent were schoolchildren. While government railway police (GRP) and railway police force (RPF) catch them and hand them over to their parents, officials said at times, parents refuse to accept that their children are involved.

A senior GRP official said many of these youngsters are high on drugs and also indulge in crimes like mobile theft. He said 99 per cent of these stunts are performed in groups. "Last week, we even caught a girl performing stunts," the official said. One thing the GRP and RPF officials agree on is that chasing the stuntmen is not advisable as they could lose their lives while running away in fear. Hence, the staff takes videos/pictures of those performing stunts and fines them at the station they get off. A senior official said that some of these boys said they started doing stunts due to peer pressure, while some said bets were placed and the higher the risk taken, the higher the chances of winning.

Police action
Sachin Bhalode, senior divisional security commissioner, Central Railway, said the number of such incidents has dropped after they started conducting special drives. Officials said compared to 2012-13, the number of people doing stunts these days has come down by 60 to 65 per cent. And, the number of deaths due to stunts stands at 3-4 a month.

Suresh Atri, senior inspector of Kurla RPF, said most of these stunt performers are booked under the Railway Act 156, which is action against rooftop travellers that carries a fine of Rs 500. More sections mean the fine becomes steeper.

Solutions
A senior GRP official said closing the doors of compartments like on the metro was one possible solution, which would discourage stunts. Another solution was innovative and humiliating punishments, like in the recent case, where the court asked the three youngsters caught performing the Kiki challenge in Virar to stand on the platform for three days and inform passengers about the dangers of performing stunts on trains. Officials said these types of punishments were very effective and helped reduced stunts on trains.

RPF action against stunts
Kurla section
2016: 122
2017: 182
2018: 117

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