On August 6, when a 22-year-old MBA student was allegedly molested in the women’s compartment of a local train, the personnel from the Government Railway Police deputed for security was not present in the compartment. While the police have faced flak for this lapse, the GRP has once again cited its shortage of manpower that comes in the way of ensuring safety of commuters on a daily basis.
While nearly 13 lakh women use the Mumbai suburban railway at present, the strength of police personnel is still based on the number of women commuters travelling in 1991, when the Railway Police Commissionerate was formed. There are 1,618 services on the Central line and 1,305 services on the Western line.
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While it’s the job of both the GRP and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) to provide security to the commuters travelling in the local trains, the responsibility of ensuring safety of the commuters travelling at night lies with the GRP.
The GRP has 279 personnel stationed at the headquarters, 1,516 on the Central line and 1,138 on the Western line, besides nearly 600 more personnel posted in other sections. The number of women personnel
“We are deputed in the women’s coach from 8.30 pm to 6 am. At present, we have a total of 3,589 staffers with us. There are about 2,206 police staff engaged on the Central and Western zones. Out of this, only constabularies are deputed by us in the women’s compartments,” said Rupali Ambure, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central Zone).
Along with two constabularies, one home guard is deputed inside the coaches for women.
“At present, the requirement is of about 1,000 personnel, with a minimum of 600 needed for the women’s coaches,” said Ritesh Aher, the GRP spokesperson.
“The GRP always says it is understaffed. This cannot be ignored as now 95 per cent women are working. It is the responsibility of the state government to ensure security for the city’s lifeline, i.e. the local trains,” said Lata Argade, a member of the Mumbai Rail Pravasi Sanghatana.
The RPF recently had a massive recruitment of 16,500 personnel. While the sanctioned strength for the Central line is 2,546 personnel, 116 new recruits have joined the current strength of 1,628. On the Western line, the sanctioned strength is 2,016, while there have been 550 new recruits.