In June last year, a 25-year-old Nerul girl was molested on a local train by a man who boarded the ladies’ compartment. Her agony was compounded when the Government Railway Police (GRP) refused to file a complaint. Seven months later, there’s finally reason to hope that commuting on local trains will get safer for lakhs of city’s women commuters.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) is in the process of setting up a call centre to address complaints from commuters on trains. The call center is expected to cut time taken to dispatch help in response to a complaint. The facility will cut across territories (commuters on trains anywhere in India can call with their complaints) and jurisdictions (complainants will no longer be asked to take their problem to the ‘other’ department). Thanks to multiple policing authorities — the GRP and the RPF — the problem of jurisdiction has been a cause of frustration for commuters wanting to lodge complaints.
Commuters who want to report a problem would have to call a three-digit number — most likely to be 135. The number would be toll-free and universally accessible.
“There will be 30 persons manning the 24-hour call centre, who will be working in eight-hour shifts. Each call received will be fed into the database and will instantly be transferred to the personnel closest to the caller - be it RPF or GRP,” said a senior RPF officer, who spoke to this newspaper on condition of anonymity. Importantly, the call center will ensure that the police will seek out the complainant, instead of the other way round, as it happens at the moment.
The Delhi-based call centre is being readied to handle all kinds of situations. Given that not all passengers would be able to communicate in Hindi or English, the 30 people manning the call centre have been selected to ensure that between them, they can converse in most Indian languages.
The RPF is currently in the process of ‘networking’ its centres — a process where all terminals across the 16 divisions of the RPF across the city will be connected. The process of networking in Mumbai is already underway. “The process is almost 90 per cent complete. The call centre will soon be started and will prove beneficial for passengers,” said Mahim Swami, inspector general, western railways.