To enhance the safety of women commuters in local trains,the state government has asked Railway Protection Force (RPF) to provide assistance to the short-staffed Government Railway Police (GRP) in night patrolling duty. The decision comes after a 23-year-old nurse was molested on a local train on July 27.
In a meeting with senior GRP,RPF and railway officials,the state proposed that RPF assist GRP in patrolling duty on trains between 4 am and 6.30 am. GRP provides night patrolling from 9 pm to 6 am.
Commissioner of police (railways) Prabhat Kumar,who was a part of the meeting,said,The state has asked RPF to either pool in their resources or take help of Home Guards. RPF personnel will be in addition to the staff that GRP has already provided for patrolling duty.
For night patrolling duty,GRP has asked the Railway Board to earmark funds for 384 patrolling personnel for Central Railway (CR) and 190 for Western Railway (WR).
The directive,however,comes as a burden for the RPF. A senior RPF official said,We are already short-staffed. The state government demand will be an added burden on RPF personnel.
RPF has 626 vacancies on Western Railway (WR) and 758 on Central Railway (CR). Additionally,it has sought around 370 Home Guards.
RPF prosecutes unauthorised male passengers in womens compartments under Section 162 of Railways Act. However,unlike Section 354 (outraging modesty of woman) of IPC,which has a maximum punishment of two years in jail,under the Railways Act,a jail term is generally given to those who cant pay the fine.
Alok Bohra,senior divisional security commissioner,RPF,said,The ingredients of IPC Section 354 need to be brought into Section 162 of the Railways Act but this decision has to be taken by higher authorities.
From January 1 to July 28,RPF WR prosecuted 4,126 men while RPF CR prosecuted 1,192 under Section 162.