Rattled by a series of Maoist attacks on passenger trains, the railways have tossed up a proposal for setting up a unified force to deal with railway crimes, with a clearly defined control and command structure.
A draft favouring a unified railway force is under consideration and likely to be moved to the Union cabinet for approval, ministry sources said.
“Railway crimes are nobody’s baby as the RPF has all the responsibility and no powers, while the GRP has all powers and no responsibility,” said A.K. Suri, former RPF director-general.
Railway crimes are jointly dealt with by the 69,000 strong Railway Protection Force (RPF) and 36,000 personnel comprising the Government Railway Police (GRP). The railways pays compensation to passengers, but the RPF deals only with minor crimes. Fifty per cent of the salaries of GRP personnel are borne by the railways and the unit handles major crimes, but has little accountability.
As at Jhargram, the two organisations have continuously displayed a tendency to play the blame game after accidents.
“All that the railways needs to do is to invoke the 7th schedule of the constitution for putting in place a unified railways force. But the political will has been lacking,” said Uma Shankar Jha, general secretary of the RPF Association.
The railways do not have a unified all-India cadre, with personnel of nine different cadres working in the ministry.
“The railways are plagued by excessive departmentalism,” said a ministry official.