Despite starting multiple helplines, police deployment and special awareness campaigns, safety of women travellers continues to remain a concern for the government railway police (GRP). Reason: the multiple exits at railway stations that help molesters escape quickly.
In January 2016, eight cases of molestation were registered by the GRP on the Central (CR) and Western Railway (WR). Of the eight, three took place at Churchgate. Last year, the GRP recorded 89 molestation incidents on both CR and WR.
According to the police, molestation also includes attempt to rob a woman. To curb such cases, the GRP will soon launch a mobile security application, which will help in speedy redressal of complaints filed by women. “The issue is serious and we strive to curb women-related offences. The mobile app will help women commuters get in touch with us easily. We have already launched a WhatsApp helpline. The all-women Nirbhaya squad, too, is doing its bit by paying surprise visits to women coaches,” said Madhukar Pandey, GRP commissioner.
The all-women’s squad travels in a group of four in civil clothes. The squad was mainly formed to curb incidents of chain-snatching, which also put the lives of women commuters at risk.
Moreover, armed policemen are deployed in women’s coaches between 9pm and 6am. Every constable on night duty covers three to four trains. “Constables take up 12-hour shifts, which is commendable, considering the standard shift for a motorman is of four hours. The staff crunch and overworking needs to be taken into account while evaluating their performance,” said Pandey.
The GRP has also started the practice of mentioning the crime record of an accused before the court to ensure a stringent sentence. Officials, however, said despite their best efforts, there are instances where the accused get away with a lighter sentence.