While women continue face harassment on Mumbai’s locals, the railway authorities and the state police continue to be locked in a blame-game over who should bolster security for commuters.
And as the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) remain at loggerheads, the common man faces the lack of vital safety measures.
The tussle between the two forces became evident on August 18, when Michelle Mark, the 28-year-old American national, who was allegedly robbed and attacked with a blade by a drug addict on a train, stood bleeding at the station master’s office while the GRP and RPF argued over who should take her to hospital.
Sanjeev Dayal, director general of police for the state, on Tuesday, said that according to a law that was recently amended by the railway authorities, the responsibility of patrolling the trains and ensuring commuter safety on railway premises was cast upon the RPF.
“But it is because we feel responsible for the women in the state that the GRP is putting in more resources and doing the RPF’s job They were supposed to know why they have not done so yet,” he said.
Sharad Chandrayan, chief public relations officer (western railways), meanwhile, said, “Policing is the police’s job. The RPF can only provide assistance to the GRP and it is doing so.”
Further, taking cognisance of an HT report, the Bombay high court had, in June 2011, asked the GRP and RPF to chalk out plans to ensure the safety of women commuters, but the execution has fallen short.
The GRP, on August 28, claimed they had received 200 homeguards as part of the plan to man local trains. Officials said that earlier, two of the three coaches in local trains used to be manned between 8.30pm and 6.30am. After recent sanction, all three compartments will be manned.
“We should get another 200 home guards soon,” said Pradip Bijve, ACP, GRP.
However, on the same day, a 29-yearold man allegedly flashed a woman travelling on a train, and later molested her in the first class ladies compartment of a Vashi-bound local. No constable was escorting the train.
B Shirsat, deputy commissioner of police (GRP) later clarified the lapse saying that although the homeguards had been sanctioned they had not reported.