RPF turns to tech to tackle rooftop travellers on trains

  • Saurabh M Joshi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: May 18, 2016 00:32 IST

To tackle the problem of rooftop travelling on local trains, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has formed a group on web-based messenger service WhatsApp to track down and apprehend such travellers.

The RPF has launched the special drive after two minor rooftop travellers were electrocuted in April when they came in contact with the overhead equipment on the harbour line.

“We have identified five stations on the harbour line where rooftop travelling is common. We have formed teams on these stations who will take photographs of people travelling on the roof. The policemen will then ask the person to come down and if he refuses, the photograph will be forwarded to teams on the following stations. The offender will then be caught on whichever station he gets down on ,” said Sachin Bhalode, senior divisional security commissioner (SDSC), RPF (CR).

The special drive has seen the RPF catch 182 such passengers within a month. Among them, at least 50 per cent of them are minors, officials said, adding that 90 per cent among those caught had boarded from Govandi station. According to officials, the stations that see the highest number of rooftop travellers are Govandi, Mankhurd, Tilak Nagar, Kurla and Dockyard Road. While a team of six people is deployed at Govandi, other stations have teams of four which will coordinate with each other to nab rooftop travellers.

All the teams have been specifically instructed to not chase the rooftop travellers as it could lead to accidents while they try to escape. The officers have been instructed to talk to them politely and to tell them to get down first. After that, the travellers will be punished, officials said.

The railway police said that taking photographs help as the offenders are shown proof even if they are caught on the platform and then deny they were travelling on top of the train.

“On many occasions, these people would have already alighted the train by the time we catch them. Mostly, they flatly deny travelling on the roof following which we show them the photograph,” added Bhalode. Those caught are penalised as per the provisions of the railway act under section 154. While the act has a provision of a jail term, not even the repeat offenders are sent behind bars by the railway court, officials said.

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