Security concerns notwithstanding, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) will be manned by only 1/3rd of its regular police staff for the next few days. Reason: 200 of the 300 policemen deployed at the station are busy with the election duty.
Apart from CST, Mumbai Central, Dadar, Bandra, Kurla, among others, will have only 33 policemen at their Government Railway Police (GRP) stations for the next 10 days. Each of these GRP station manages at least 4-5 railway stations.
The strength of the GRP at CST was increased after the 26/11 terror attacks. “Police presence is necessary at the station to control the crowd as well as to monitor unwanted elements,” said a GRP officer.
With just 300 policemen, the CST GRP, which cover 18 local and terminal platforms of CST, Byculla, Masjid, Chichpokli and Sandhurst Road stations, is facing a staff crunch.
The usual remedial measure is to get more homeguards, which cannot be used this time, as they too are busy with the poll duty.
Railway expert Samir Zaveri said, “This is clearly compromising on the safety of 75 lakh passengers who travel on local trains. The security of women, too, will be at stake. This is not acceptable. The government should call forces from neighbouring states, if need be, rather than taking such step.”
Stating that all steps will be taken for the security of passengers, GRP commissioner Dr Ravinder Singal said, “We will focus on optimum utilization of the available force when most of our staff will be away. We will also look at getting help from the Railway Protection Force (RPF).”