Alarmed by an average of 25 mobile phone thefts a day at Nalasopara station, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) for Western Railway has decided to set-up and an outpost there with a staff of 39 — including an inspector and a sub-inspector.
Besides Nalasopara, Malad — for Malad and Goregaon — and Mumbai Central stations too will have dedicated outposts with 38 and 56 personnel to rein in crime, including pickpocketing , chain-snatching and petty thefts, and reduce unnecessary chain-pulling.
All three railway outposts will be functional from September 1.
The three outposts will add to RPF’s muscle as it recently announced that its officers in plainclothes will catch offenders. The railway force had arrested 88 people, almost as many as offenders were caught during the whole of 2015 — 93.
“The new outpost was need of the hour for Nalasopara, which, till now, came under the Virar RPF. The Virar outpost’s focus would be on securing the railway property,” said Anand Vijay Jha, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF.
Another reason, officials said, to create new outpost for Nalasopara was overcrowding, which sees a footfall of around 2 lakh commuters a day, close to the Andheri station’s 2.5 lakh. Andheri station has an exclusive RPF outpost for two decades. The new outposts will deter miscreants from executing their nefarious ploys and help in crowd control during peak hours, officials said.
“A dedicated team will help in bringing down the railway accidents that take place near pole number 54/9 where many slip and fall from the footboard. Bringing down chain pulling incidents will help improve the punctuality of local trains,” said SS Yadav, inspector of Virar RPF.
The RPF had till July arrested six people for mobile phone thefts from Nalasopara station and handed them over to the Government Railway Police (GRP). Officials found six stolen phones in the possession of one of the accused, who was a habitual criminal. The RPF operates under the Railway Act while the Government Railway Police (GRP) can register criminal cases and prosecute the accused people under the Indian Penal code.
Earlier, officials had said that the RPF will also use mobile phone applications and ‘M-Indicator’ to act quickly when there is a distress call from a woman commuter. Personnel are alerted within minutes through these apps, said RPF sources on condition of anonymity. The RPF has also formed WhatsApp groups of women commuters, senior RPF officials and women officials.