Every time an accident occurs on the railway tracks, most on-duty Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel feel helpless because they haven’t received the mandatory sterilised gloves. They are hesitant to pick up bodies of the victims instead prodding porters to do the needful.
In a query filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by activist Samir Zaveri, Central Railway admitted that it began distributing these gloves only in 2009. This, despite a 2004 high court order, which had made it mandatory for the railways to provide gloves to all GRP officials and porters who help lift bodies of victims. A GRP official, posted at a station on the Central line said: “A few years ago, most constables wouldn’t think twice before lifting bodies off the track because there wasn’t awareness about diseases like AIDS. Now most are hesitant.”
Additional Director General (Railways) Raj Khilnani agreed that there was a problem. “I don’t think the railways bother supplying gloves to my men, whose safety is of utmost concern for us. I will take this matter up with the railways immediately.”
Zaveri said it was shocking to see the railways being so callous. “The RTI reply shows that these gloves cost only Rs 7-8 a pair.”
Both the Central and the Western Railways (WR) denied the allegations. Shrinivas Mudgerikar, chief PRO, CR said, “We have been implementing the recommendations of the HC and the supply of gloves has been consistent. If there is a short supply at any station, we’ll look into it immediately.”
The WR officials blamed the GRP. WR’s chief PRO, Sharad Chandrayan said: “We pay the GRP Rs 700 per body that they handle. So they should make their own arrangement for gloves. Our railway officers and porters handle accident bodies and not the GRP men. Hence, I don’t feel the need to equip them with gloves.”
A senior GRP official dismissed the claim. “It is the porters and our GRP men who are directed by these railway officials to lift the bodies.”