In a first in Karnataka, a 15-member all-women Railway Protection Force (RPF) team will travel in different trains in a bid to enhance the safety of women passengers. Named Shakthi, the teams pledge to work real-time on complaints from women passengers.
Debasmita Chattopadhyay Banerjee, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF Bangalore Division said, “Real-time tracking of issues related to women passengers is made possible via WhatsApp groups which include Shakthi teams comprising RPF officers, lady representatives from daily passenger trains and frequent travellers on the route.”
Banerjee added that the initiative will help prevent several untoward incidents women face while travelling in trains. “Concerns can now be addressed faster than ever and perpetrators can be caught and prosecuted without much delay. Women can now get faster responses than the same received by reaching out to helpline numbers,” she added.
According to team Shakthi, which began operations in the last week of June, more than 25 men have been arrested under section 162 of the Railway Act for trespassing into women-only coaches.
Apart from men entering lady compartments and refusing to move out even when pointed out, instances of groping and brushing against female passengers in crowded trains are still common, women passengers point out. “Mostly, we are in a hurry to reach work/home and get no time to complain and follow up the case as the entire process is time-consuming. A WhatsApp group to encounter such issues on a real-time basis is a great initiative that will aid many,” Namratha Nayak, a techie and a frequent rail user on the Whitefield -KR Puram route says.
Several passenger-initiated groups have been active over the past few years to share information regarding the change in train schedules, passenger safety but without RPF participation. “The Shakthi initiative will bridge this gap and will give lady passenger a safer feel from now on,” Nayak adds.
The Shakthi team, which is operational on 22 trains on the Bengaluru-Mysuru route, will soon extend their services to trains on Bengaluru-Bangarapet routes as well.
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