At least 16 women were attacked each month until October on local trains and across the 92 railway stations on the Central and Western lines in Mumbai, railway police statistics have revealed. These attacks include rapes, molestation, robberies, murders, chain snatching and attempts to murder, the railway police said.
“Until October, 160 complaints were registered with the railway police, pertaining to crimes against women across the Central and Western lines. These complaints include two rape cases and five molestation attempts on local trains,” said police inspector N Shaikh of the CST railway police.
The railway police say that several measures are being taken to improve the safety of women using the railway network. “We recently got sanction to engage 300 homeguards to patrol the railway stations. Of these, 10% will be women. The scheme should get executed in a month,” informed Mahim Swamy, inspector general, Railway Protection Force, Western Railway.
The railway police said that in the aftermath of the suo motu cognisance by the Bombay high court in November, when the court had rapped railway authorities for inefficient security measures for the protection of women, they have formed two task forces to prevent crimes against women. These task forces, Swamy said, are especially designed to protect women passengers — women constables patrol railway stations round the clock and are instructed to conduct random searches to ensure better safety.
However, Kavya Iyer, a 23-year-old assistant producer with media firm UTV, feels that train travel has become increasingly dangerous for women. “I travel by the western line every day to my workplace in Andheri. I usually take the train back home at around 10.30pm, and on several occasions, I have seen men barge into women’s coaches, and they often make lewd remarks at the women commuters. There are no female constables in the ladies compartments during the non-peak hours to keep these men out,” said Iyer.
Swamy, said a massive drive was launched this year to arrest male passengers who enter compartments allocated for women. “Since April, we have arrested over 4,000 male passengers who entered women’s compartments. This number is almost double the arrests made during the corresponding period last year,” he said.