Following increasing instances of women commuters being attacked in local trains,the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has increased vigil on ladies compartments,and cracked down on offenders. Correspondingly,there has been an increase in the number of cases of unauthorised travel in ladies compartments registered by the RPF this year.
Between January 1 and November 30,there has been a 47 per cent increase in prosecution of unauthorised travellers in compartments reserved for women passengers on Central Railway (CR) this year,and 79 per cent on Western Railway (WR),as compared to the same period in 2012.
The RPF (CR) registered 2,655 cases in 2013 as compared to 1,807 in 2012. While 34 offenders were jailed in 2012,21 were sent to prison in 2013. On WR,the RPF registered 9,287 cases this year,as against 5,182 in the corresponding period last year. In 2012,the RPF (WR) sent 17 offenders to jail,while in 2013,25 persons were sent to prison.
Unauthorised travel is punishable under Section 162 of the Railways Act,1989,and entails a maximum fine of Rs 500 or a jail term in case the fine is not paid.
Rajendra Rupnawar,senior Divisional Security Commissioner,RPF (WR) said,We began with a special drive in women compartments at the start of the year. A team of women RPF personnel made announcements inside ladies compartments,informing them on safety,and requesting them not to board empty compartments,especially at night.
Feedback on the drive is also being undertaken to assess its impact and gauge commuters awareness. CR has initiated a similar drive,with women RPF teams taking feedback from women commuters. They have been informing commuters about helpline numbers.
However,shortage of staff in RPF and Government Railway Police (GRP) continues to be a hurdle for the forces to ensure safety of women commuters. There are 1,700 RPF personnel on CR and 1,000 on WR. Given a vacancy of more than 40 per cent in RPF,the state government has assisted the protection force with 450 Home Guards to man platforms as well as compartments.
Alok Bohra,senior Divisional Security Commissioner,RPF (CR) said,We have increased drives against unauthorised persons in ladies compartments. This has been achieved through increasing the number of drives every day,and deputing special teams of women RPF personnel in ladies coaches.