A heart symbol with lewd messages written with a marker pen in bold. Just one example of the offensive graffiti found in the second-class ladies compartments on the suburban trains.
Female commuters,especially school and college girls find it a nuisance,but catching the culprits is not easy,as they usually do it when no one is watching.
Last month,a college girl was shocked to see her name scribbled next to that of a boy she knew,but she was not sure whether he had written it. When other commuters suggested she lodge a complaint,the girl refused saying the police would not do anything and that she would be unnecessarily defamed.
The Western Railway registers graffiti cases under section 166 A and 166B of Indian Railways Act pertaining to damaging railway property. In case of the Western Railway,in 2008,78 cases were registered under these sections and all of them resulted in convictions. The fine realised from these cases was Rs 35,750. Two cases are pending. In 2007,58 cases were registered and all the accused were prosecuted resulting in collection of Rs18,500 in fines.
Of these cases,more than 50 per cent are cases of graffiti. In most of the graffiti cases,college or school going students were caught. However,last year,a well dressed elderly person was caught by the RPF while he was defacing the compartment with graffiti. In this case,the railway court sentenced him to a years imprisonment, said a Railway Protection Force (RPF) official of WR,who did not wish to be named.
When contacted,Devendra Kasar,Senior Security Commissioner RPF (Western Railway),refused to comment.
However,S C Parhi,the Senior Security Commissioner,RPF (Central Railways) said there were no cases against offenders in Central Railways last year. It is very difficult to get the culprits because when there is somebody around,nobody dares to write such graffiti. If women lodge any complaint,we can take immediate action. Anyway,we will have to think of another ways to solve this problem.
The RPF (Central Railway) registers graffiti cases under section 145A,145B and 145 C of Indian Railways Act pertaining to creating nuisance. The punishment is one-month imprisonment or a fine Rs 500 to Rs 1000.
In 2008,1,874 cases were lodged and Rs 5,43,750 fines realised. In 2007,2,260 cases were registered and Rs 6,69,745 collected.
Prior to 2004,such cases were dealt by the GRP,after which the RPF was empowered to deal with cases relating to passenger harassment under the Indian Railway Act,1989.
In April 2002,the then Railway Commissioner Rakesh Maria had formed three squads comprising 10 policemen each to tackle the menace. The same month,the squads arrested two culprits redhanded a 23-year-old engineering student and a 20-year-old college student (20) while they were scribbling vulgar graffiti in the second class ladies compartment. Second class ladies compartments turn into general compartments after 11 pm.
Smita Talwar,a regular commuter from Malad said,If the Railways removes graffiti regularly,this problem may be solved to some extent. If a person finds the stuff he scribbles removed,he will not repeat it.
When trains are sent for overhauling to car sheds every 15 days,all the graffiti is washed off using chemicals. If it does not come off,it is painted over, said Shyam Sunder Gupta,Chief Public Relations officer,WR. As far as graffiti is concerned,it is basically a social problem and against the law. The Western Railways is going to start some campaign against those who do this, said Gupta.