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Lucknow Women feel edgy at ‘nuisance junction’

Gulam Jeelani, Hindustan Times  Lucknow, September 18, 2013
First Published: 10:37 IST(18/9/2013) | Last Updated: 10:40 IST(18/9/2013)

Every time Anamika, 25, has to board a train from Charbagh railway station here, she would ensure that her father stays till the train departs.

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On her journey back home, she calls him up at least 15 minutes before the train chugs in to Lucknow Junction. Reason: She does not feel safe even for five minutes that would take her to come outside the station.

The management student says being on the platform alone is an invitation to harassment in the form of lecherous looks and lewd remarks from groups of men loitering around the area more often than not. “I do not feel safe at the station.

Men of all ages give me dirty looks or make a pass at me,” she said adding that her father is a protective shield against all such menace.

The biggest problem here, according to commuters like Anamika, is that the station has become a shelter for homeless people, a haven for beggars and a hangout zone for gangs of boys and drug addicts.

They complain that at all times, the platforms, the foot overbridge and the ticketing area are occupied by these people, who wander across the station premises, catcalling at women or creating a nuisance.

“On many occasions, one finds these men deliberately bumping into women, passing lewd comments. But there is little you can do, except ignore them. The station is pretty desolate,” said another woman commuter.

Surprisingly, the rising rate of crime against women commuters has failed to move the railway authorities. Leave alone the sleeper, general and AC compartments, where incidents of loot, theft and eve-teasing are a regular phenomenon, the station premises are a safer field for criminals to play on!

To make matters worse, the presence of the Government Railway Police (GRP) at the station is extremely poor.

There are no constables patrolling the platforms, bridges or the ticketing area.

Police benches lie abandoned, except during the VIP movement or a surprise inspection.

According to the railway ministry data, more than 200 cases of crime against women,
including rape, molestation and misbehaviour, were reported across the country last year.

A total 210 such cases were registered in 2012 against 127 cases in 2011. While molestation cases in trains have gone up from 52 in 2010 to 72 in 2011, the number touched 119 in 2012. Rapes have also increased from three in 2011 to seven in 2012.

WHAT’S THE RAILWAYS DOING?

It maintains that policing on the rail network is a state subject and prevention of crime, registration of cases, investigations and maintenance of law and order on railway premises as well as on moving trains are, therefore, the statutory responsibility of the state governments which they discharge through GRP.

Though female cops guard sleeper and ladies’ coaches; there is no such provision for AC coaches, making women passengers more vulnerable. No wonder then, the cases of eve-teasing and moles-molestation are rampant on moving trains.

The crime on railway property is also a GRP subject.

But what’s wrong if Railway ay Protection Force ( RPF) pitches in and hands over the criminals to the GRP? Ideally RPF takes care of theft or loot of railway property.

“Women cops are deployed in ladies’ coaches and at times in sleeper and general classes. But not in AC coaches,” said Rizwan Ahmad, director- general (Railways).

The 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 across the country, over 3,000 constables (GRP and RPF) are deployed on duty.

Of a total strength of 5,560 GRP cops, only 40 (30 constables and 10 sub inspectors) are females.

For nine years now, the RPF’s demand for 20,000 more personnel is pending.

“The Railways is a commercial agency. It is least bothered about safety. All it cares is how to increase revenues,” a railway board member told HT.


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