Struggling with staff shortage and technical snags hitting their escort schedule, the Government Railway Police (GRP) have roped in IIT-Bombay (IIT-B) to help provide better security to women using the suburban railway.
IIT-B will examine the system the GRP have in place to provide escorts to women’s coaches, and suggest improvements for more effective policing.
The GRP has also launched a new scheme – U-Know U-Check We-Respond – under which awareness stickers will be pasted outside women’s coaches(U-Know) and if no escort is found in the coach, commuters can complain on 9833331111 (U-Check). The GRP will then deploy its reserve force (We-Respond). The number of personnel deployed has also been increased.
The steps come after the agency faced flak over the molestation of a 22-year-old management student in a Churchgate-bound train.
The student was travelling in an empty second class women’s coach on August 6, when a 19-year-old man molested her at Grant Road station.
No police escort was present in the coach, as the trains were running 93 minutes late owing to a technical snag, according to the GRP.
The molester was later arrested from Grant Road by the RPF. The RPF officials had identified the accused, Pappu Yadav, with the help of CCTV camera footage. The police said Yadav was drunk when he was arrested and the officials found a liquor bottle and packets of condoms from him.
“With the workforce available, we are doing the best we can. We have sought IIT Bombay’s help for a permanent and more robust solution,” Madhukar Pandey, GRP commissioner, told HT.
The August 6 incident also brought to light the fact that none of the supervisory staff noticed the absence of a policeman on the coach. An assistant sub-inspector is posted on Santacruz and Dadar stations (between Borivli and Churchgate) to check if the escorts are present.
“The current supervision system is not fully reliable and hence we are trying to find a better mechanism by involving the IIT. On our part, we have increased escort staff from 380 policemen and 200 Home Guards to 420 and 240 respectively,” said Pandey.
Since not enough personnel are available to secure all coaches, the GRP will now spread awareness about escorted coaches.
“We will paste ‘U-Know’ stickers outside coaches that have police escort present, so women board these coaches during odd hours,” Pandey said.
The GRP is also coordinating with the Railway Protection Force (RPF), which have recruited new personnel in the past few months.
“We are the RPF’s help to have a system where the escort duty responsibility can be equally divided between us, as passenger safety is the RPF’s concern, too,” Pandey said.