The survey of women commuters of Western Railway being conducted by the Railways Police Force (RPF) has revealed that many of them want round-the-clock presence of guards in the ladies compartment, and not just after 8pm. The RPF, however, says it will take some time to implement the measure as it is critically short-staffed.
The suggestion has been made since a lot of youngsters board the ladies compartment during the day and sometimes misbehave when they are asked not to try risky manoeuvers in the moving train. Having railway policemen in the ladies compartment throughout the day will thus be useful in making their travel less discomforting.
The RPF says the shortage of manpower is not only a problem with them but also the Government Railway Police (GRP). While the authorities are trying to find a solution to the problem, the RPF, meanwhile, has started creating awareness amongst women commuters about the help line number, which is active all through the day.
“The number is mentioned on a silver plate which has been put up in every ladies compartment. But 90% of women commuters do not know about it. Hence, we have highlighted the number in fluorescent colour so that it is prominent. Women can call on the help line to report emergencies and prompt action will be taken," said Yash Mishra, senior police inspector of Churchgate RPF.
According to statistics presented by the railways and the state government in the Bombay high court, the present deployment – 232 police personnel on Central and Harbour lines – is not even enough to ensure a policeman is present even in every ladies compartment during the night.
The police commissioner has forwarded a proposal to the additional chief secretary (home) to seek sanction for additional 2,648 posts in GRP and it is under consideration of the state government.
The chief security commissioner (Central Railway) has also forwarded a proposal to the Railway Board for creation of 2,638 additional posts in the RPF. Of these, 1,632 personnel will be for the Central and remaining for the Western line. However, the Railway Board has sanctioned merely 225 new posts.
The RPF is expecting approval for the remaining posts too, as the Bombay high court has issued a notice to the Railway Board following suo-motu proceedings based on Hindustan Times reports. The high court has converted two HT reports highlighting the plight of women commuters in the city into a public interest litigation.