How can the Railways protect passengers from theft committed by its staff? This is a question troubling officials of the Indian Railways as an internal analysis has found that 28 in-house staff, including Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs), were involved in 21 cases of theft in moving trains since January this year.
The ministry’s Security establishment has found that those arrested for theft included both its own staff as well as those belonging to contractors who had been outsourced by various railway departments.
“The figures are about reported incidents whereas there is enough reason to believe that some of the incidents of thefts… go unreported by passengers where involvement/connivance of onboard staff with criminals cannot be completely ruled out,” says a note from Director General of Railway Protection Force Dharmendra Kumar.
The 21 cases saw arrests of two TTEs, 15 coach attendants, five staff involved in managing linen, three pantry waiters, and three involved in on-board housekeeping.
Passenger trains have staff belonging to contractors managed by various departments. The catering contractor, for instance, deploys its staff for food, while the Housekeeping directorate employs teams for housekeeping and linen management.
The ministry now wants all outsourced staff to be verified through their Aadhaar numbers, bank account details and other documents.
The Security establishment has proposed that while department staff engaged in such activities should face strict disciplinary action, services of those on the rolls of contractors should be terminated immediately.
“Measures to fix responsibility and make outsourced contractors liable… may be seriously thought of,” says Kumar’s note. Most of the cases of theft were of mobile phones, women’s purses and men’s wallets, besides some cases of gold jewellery, laptops and cash.