It will now be mandatory for every police station in the city to have policemen posted outside women’s compartments, on platforms and on foot-overbridges.
The first day of the New Year brought with it a surprise visit from state home minister RR Patil to the Churchgate station — followed by some quick decisions on improving women’s safety at railway stations and in trains. Patil visited the station on Monday at around 5pm, when crowds had just begun to swell.
With immediate effect, the railway police will have to ensure police deployment at several spots at the station, to safeguard women commuters boarding and alighting trains. Also, more than a year after it was made compulsory for the Government Railway Police (GRP) to post police guards in women’s compartments of 9 and 12-coach trains, between 8 am and 8 pm, the state home minister has insisted that the rule must be thoroughly followed. At present, most often guards are not found on the trains. Patil announced that these rules will be applicable to all three lines – western, central and harbour – of the suburban network.
These moves, if implemented, will improve the safety of approximately 20 lakh women commuters on the suburban network.
During his visit, Patil interacted with women at the station and asked them about their commuting woes, which he has promised to solve. “The women commuters told me that they usually face harassment at FOBs and while boarding or alighting trains. I have told the railway police to ensure that there is vigil at these spots at all times. We are in the process of increasing the number of women police too,” said Patil, after his Tuesday visit.
The absence of police constables in women’s compartments was another issue that commuters complained of. “I have now asked the police to strictly follow this rule,” Patil said.
In October 2011, reacting to increasing cases of harassment at suburban stations and trains, the home department had announced that number of home guards will be increased from one per train to one in every women’s compartment.