The Railway Protection Force (RPF), responsible for passenger safety, does not have sufficient number of women constables who can be posted in the ladies' compartments to ensure that women can travel safely.
"We face an acute shortage of woman police constables. We have only 110 women police constables on the central line, which includes the Thane-Belapur route, and they are posted at various railway stations," SP Singh, assistant security commissioner, RPF told the Bombay high court on Thursday.
Singh was responding to a query from the division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Ranjana Desai, during the hearing of the suo motu public interest litigation based on a June 21 HT report about a 25-year-old woman from Nerul who was molested in a moving local train.
The court had asked Singh why the RPF did not have women constables posted in ladies' compartments. The ladies compartment in which the victim had got into on June 19 had been empty of other commuters as well as constables.
Responding to Singh, the court suggested that the RPF should increase its manpower.
The court then directed the RPF's counsel, Suresh Kumar, to file an affidavit on the steps the railway police propose to take to ensure the safety of women commuters in local trains. The court wants the affidavit filed within two weeks.
The June 21 Hindustan Times report had highlighted the insensitivity of the railway police at Thane station, who discouraged the 25-year-old victim from registering a complaint saying that she had "only been molested".
On June 20, a day after the incident, the Vashi Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel registered her complaint. Ramesh Bhosale, inspector of Vashi GRP, said in his affidavit the culprit's sketches have been drawn, based on the description given by the victim, and copies forwarded to all GRP chowkies.