A quick look at crime figures for this year shows how unsafe women commuters are on local trains. So far,234 cases of crimes against women on Mumbai suburban railways have been registered in 2013,of which only 108 have been detected. Last year,415 cases were registered,of which only 253 were detected.
Meanwhile,in the wake of an American national being attacked on a local train Sunday,Government Railway Police (GRP) has asked women commuters to avoid empty compartments.
This year,chain snatchings continue to account for a majority of the crimes,with 166 cases. With a spate in cases of violence against women,Government Railway Police (GRP) has been booking offenders under the more serious charge of robbery as compared to theft.
Chain thefts and molestation account for 28 and 25 cases respectively in 2013. There has been a 31 per cent increase in the number of molestation cases this year. In 2012,there were 19 cases of molestation.
Commenting on the constraints the GRP is facing,P S Bijwe,ACP (Bandra division),said,We are facing a staff crunch. This issue has been highlighted time and again. Until the force has adequate numbers,we request women commuters not to travel in empty compartments,especially if the adjacent compartments are also empty.
To improve policing at railway stations,GRP needs to fill 1,846 vacancies and 574 personnel are immediately required for night patrolling duty (between 9 pm and 6 am). GRP also requires 1,272 personnel to man 349 platforms on the Central and Western railways.
On the attack on an American woman inside a local train on Sunday afternoon,Bijwe said,It is the duty of the Railway Protection Force to provide a safe environment to commuters. The GRP is responsible for carrying out the investigation. At night,patrolling is GRPs duty; this incident took place in broad daylight.
Rajendra Rupnawar,senior divisional security commissioner,RPF (WR),said,The shortage of staff in RPF,GRP and local police is a problem. With limited staff,police presence,especially at railway stations,is limited. Also,a lot of women commuters are targeted on days or during hours when the density of commuters is low.
The GRP suspects that the man who attacked the American woman is a drug addict. Asked about the presence of drug addicts at railway stations,an officer said,Despite drives being undertaken every day,it is extremely difficult to prevent drug addicts from entering railway stations as there are several unauthorised entry and exit points.
Shailendra Kumar,divisional railway manager,WR,said,We are dependent on the GRP to handle the law-and-order cases. We are asking them to increase coordination. We have asked the RPF to ensure that stations are free from hawkers and drug addicts.