Even four days after a robbery on a suburban train between Dockyard Road and Reay Road stations, the police presence on the harbour line of the Central Railway (CR) remains next to invisible.
The Hindustan Times team, which paid visits to the important stations along the route at three different times of the day, did not find policemen stationed on the premises. Commuters, especially women, told HT that contrary to the authorities’ claims, no efforts have been taken to boost the security on trains and station premises.
Vaishali Bhambri, 24, said she feels unsafe when she travels back from her workplace in Vashi to GTB Nagar. “I return home at 10pm, and it is really scary. The stretch between Mankhurd and Kurla is dangerous. Not just the station premises, at times, there are no policemen in the women’s coaches too,” she said.
Questioning the logic behind putting up the helpline numbers on railway platforms, she said, “Helplines work in case of an untoward incident, but what if a victim needs to be attended to on the spot. They can’t shirk their responsibility by putting the onus on fellow commuters,” said Bhambri.
“I do not see any policeman at Wadala stations. How will they help out if any commuter meets with an accident,” asked another commuter Priyanka K, an 18-year-old engineering student, travels to from Wadala to her college in Panvel.
For trains halting between signals, the slums along the railway tracks, too, are cause for concern. With concerns such as these, Riddhi Vichare, 21, a fashion designing student of INIFD at Vashi, takes a train from Wadala Road station, even though she lives in Matunga. “I reach home by 11pm.While I am on the train, I stay in constant touch with my mother. I don’t feel safe at all and this is certainly not how the travelling conditions should be in a city like Mumbai.”
The government railway police (GRP), however, maintained one policeman each was deployed at Sewri and Reay Road stations, while home guards are posted at other stations. However, the patrol benches on these platforms were empty.
The railway protection force (RPF), on which the GRP is pinning its hopes, said they are short-staffed. “We are providing all possible assistance to the GRP,” said Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, Central Railway.