Carefully observing the rush of commuters inside the women’ compartment, he stood near the door of the train. With a long rifle in hand and a police uniform to establish the reason why he stood in the women’s coach, the constable looked at a loss for words as he tried to answer questions posed to him.
“Though this is a regular job for us, we are not always welcomed by commuters in the women’s compartment. I often hear remarks like ‘Why are you standing in our compartment?’, ‘Please move out, we do not need you here’, he said.
The policeman (29), who did not wish to be named, has completed nine years in the state police force. He prefers taking the night shift to guard the women’s compartment because it helps him earn a little more. “We have the option to choose this shift. I take this up because it helps me get a little more money. Also, I am able to dedicate my daytime to other activities,” he said.
A police night guard in the women’s compartment boards the train around 8.45-9 pm and is supposed to stay for the next 12 hours or longer, till there is a considerable crowd in the compartment. They are allotted different railway lines every day.
“You need to quickly ask for a replacement if you would not be available for the shift. Moreover, I can be penalised if I do not take appropriate action in case a crime takes place during my shift in the compartment,” he said.
There are bigger challenges in the job, the cop added.
“After completing a journey till the last point in the train, we are offered a rest period of four-five hours. In that time, forget sleeping, we are not even offered a proper place to eat on any of the railway platforms. Rest rooms are not free to serve us,” the policeman said.
Such rooms are occupied by personnel from the Railway Police Force, he said.
“Don’t we deserve to be financially compensated for the hard work we put in?” he said, adding, “Our service is expected to be optimum during religious or national holidays. But why does it not translate to getting an income similar to that of any central government employee?” he questioned.
However, speaking about his marriage, coming up next year, cheered him up. “My marriage is fixed for the next year and I expect my wife to understand the responsibilities of my job. I work as a stenographer in the day, because I love doing that. In the span of a single day, I play different roles,” the cop said.