If you thought rapes were improbable or impossible in crowded Indian trains, consider this: One incident of rape in a moving train was reported in 2009; three cases in 2011 — and as many as 11 cases in just nine months between January and September 2012.
Drugging the victim is the usual modus operandi employed by organised criminal groups, active mostly on suburban sections in the West Central, Western and South Western railway zones. Here, passenger volume is sometimes thin at night.
Incidents of drugging in trains have progressively risen from 675 cases in 2009 to 756 cases in 2010 and 1,109 cases in 2011. In some cases, women were reportedly forced into empty compartments or toilets.
Cases of eve-teasing and molestation are rampant on moving trains. While 60 such cases were reported in 2009, 47 and 76 cases were registered the following years.
Railways’ preparedness to deal with the menace can be gauged from the fact that for the 2.25 crore passengers of 11,000 passenger trains each day, constables placed on duty number 3,300.
The Rs.2,500-crore integrated security plan envisaging installations of CCTVs and modern surveillance equipment at 202 stations has continued to hang fire for five years. Demands by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) for 20,000 more personnel is pending for nine years.
Plans to induct two RPF women battalions are also in cold storage. The CRIS — a Railways PSU — is still struggling to develop a software to provide for a RPF toll-free and universal helpline number.
“Being a commercial agency, the Railways is more concerned about increasing revenues. Passenger security is low on its priority list,” an official said.
RPF director general PK Mehta has prepared a blueprint of a modernisation plan for the force, which is expected to come up during his January 4 meeting between the home minister, chief secretaries and DGPs.
“Duality of authority (between the RPF and GRP) must be eliminated and the manpower shortage in the RPF should be addressed,” said US Jha, general secretary of the RPF association.