More than three years after two Pakistani terrorists rained bullets on commuters at the busy Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST), the suburban railway stations in the city still continue to remain vulnerable.
The Government Railway Police (GRP), entrusted with maintaining the security at stations, are not only grappling with an increase in crime rate, but also facing a severe staff crunch.
Armed policemen at stations were increased and the need for more police presence and setting up metal detectors at all entry and exit points gathered pace after the 26/11 attack. However, senior police officers claim that the number of personnel has never been close to the required strength.
According to GRP sources, at least 88 posts of police sub-inspectors (PSI) out of 134 have been lying vacant for a long time. PSIs play a very important role in probing cases and hence are required in large numbers.
Sources said the GRP authorities had been pursuing the matter with the home department, but nothing has changed.
Similarly, 24 posts of assistant inspectors and three each of assistant commissioners of police and police inspectors are lying vacant, apart from endless vacancies at the constabulary level.
Damodar Shinde, deputy commissioner of police, GRP, said getting new personnel was a time consuming process. “We have to recruit 348 personnel in 2012; 239 recruits have been sent for training to the police training schools. The training programme will go on for nine months, following which they would be groomed for handling work at the police station level. They would then be posted at the police stations.”
However, these figures do not take into consideration the number of people who retire every year, said an officer requesting anonymity.
In 2011, at least 28 persons retired from the force. Three more have retired from January to April 2012 and another 40 will be leaving by the end of the year.
“Generally, nobody focuses on the retirement. For instance, in 2012 we will get 348 new personnel , but on the other hand 43 will retire. This shows the real permutation-combination between the so-called recruitment,” the officer said.