It is not just accidents and sabotages that disrupted the railways; passengers of the Indian railways witnessed more crimes against them on trains in last one and half year.
Compared to 148 cases of loot - dacoity and robbery in trains - in 2007, 2009 had 183 cases and in six months of 2010 it is 102. While number of drugging cases was 573 and 467 in 2001 and 2008 respectively, in 2009 it is 619 and 247 already till this June.
Other crimes like chain snatching also shot up from 4379 in 2007 to 5156 in 2009. Till June – 3032 cases reported, Ministry of Railways said.
The spurt in loot has been particularly sharp in Central, East Central and North East Frontier railways.
While the crime figures are going up, the action against the criminals is on the decline. Number of arrests for offence on trains in 2007 is 2487 but in 2009, which saw a spurt of crime, it is only 2200.
Interestingly, the increase corresponds with the time from which Mamata Banerjee took over from Lalu Yadav as Minister for Railways.
The Railways has a special force called Railway Protection Force (RPF) and in addition are the State Police personnel (Railways pays half their salary cost) deployed for law and order maintenance in the stations and trains.
But the reply from the Minister was the one familiar. “Prevention of crime, registration of cases, their investigation and maintenance of law and order in Railway premises as well as on running trains are the statutory responsibility of the State police, discharged through Government Railway Police (GRP) of state concerned. As such the cases are reported to, registered and investigated by the GRP,” Mamata Banerjee said in reply of a question in Lok Sabha.
Daily on an average, 2200 trains are escorted by GRP of different states, in addition to 1275 trains escorted by RPF.
The Ministry is considering an amendment to Railway Protection Force Act to enable RPF deal with passenger related offences effectively.
An integrated security system with electronic surveillance of vulnerable stations through CCTV, access control, anti sabotage checks has been approved in 202 vulnerable stations, Railways said.
The sabotage by Maoists and others has also disrupted the Indian Railways profit path. The largest transport network made a loss of Rs 24.74 crore because of damage to property in first six months of this year. The loss due to sabotage, calculated till June, is biggest ever even on annual scale of preceding years
The eight trains crashing to plans of terror outfits killed 150 people and injured 165 – the human loss also biggest ever in the category. The Rail Ministry claimed to have paid Rs 3.2 crore as ex-gratia to the victims.