Delhi train stations unsafe, says railway police in post-Pulwama audit
A security audit of Delhi’s 45 railway stations conducted by the Government Railway Police (GRP) after the Pulwama terror attack has revealed serious lapses in the present security infrastructure.
The audit report mentions that 11 railway stations have no passenger bag scanners, while four stations lack boundary walls to prevent intrusion. It further states that railway stations in the national capital face a shortage of 416 CCTV cameras, 16 baggage scanners and 15 door frame metal detectors (DFMDs) required to prevent entry of arms, ammunitions and explosives into the premises.
The audit was conducted in late February, less than a week after the Pulwama terror attack. A copy of the report has also been sent to senior officers of the Northern Railway’s Delhi division.
According to the audit report, a copy of which is with HT, 11 out of the 45 railway stations that do not have a single passenger bag scanner include – Sabzi Mandi, Dayabasti, Sakur Basti, Mangolpuri, Nangloi, Mundka, Ghewra, Palam, Sadar Bazar, Shahdara and Vivek Vihar.
Besides, four railway stations — Shahdara, Sadar Bazar, SP Marg and Vivek Vihar — have no boundary wall to avert illegal intrusion, the report mentions.
The audit report also states that many railway stations lack DFMDs, which are used to scan passengers entering the railway stations. These stations are Shivaji Bridge and Tilak Bridge, which are close to Connaught Place in Lutyens’ Delhi.
The report also mentions that the parcel area at the New Delhi railway station, which alone has a footfall of at least 3 lakh a day, has no DFMDs.
“It is requested that immediate remedial measures may kindly be taken on above mentioned points on priority to avoid any untoward incident in the interest of safety of railways, passengers and property,” the report reads.
The report further says that “CCTV cameras installed at Old Delhi railway station and Shahdara station are quite old and their images are very poor. These CCTV cameras are required to be replaced.”
When HT visited three of these railway stations, passengers were found entering with multiple bags without undergoing any security checks or frisking.
Aslam Khan (45), who runs a makeshift shop selling mobile phone accessories, right before the platform entrance at Sadar Bazar railway station, said he has never seen the entrance being manned. “There might be some deployment on Republic Day or Independence Day. But I have never seen any security man at the entrance,” he said. The station also has no boundary wall allowing passengers, vendors and locals to intrude freely.
Similar was the situation at Shahdara railway station where police posts were found empty. Fahad Mohammad (40), who was travelling with his wife and a 13-year-old daughter, said he had come to catch a train to Breilly in UP. “I have seen people entering the railway station freely without any police intervention. These railway stations become a spot for drunkards and unsocial elements soon after dark, making the vicinity unsafe,” he said.
When asked about the audit, deputy commissioner of police (railways) Dinesh Kumar Gupta refused to share details. He, however, said that the audit was conducted few days after Pulwama attack to check preparedness against the possibilities of a terror attack.
“In the wake of lapses found, we have stepped up the frequency of patrolling and anti-sabotage checks every day. Additional machans have been erected and we also have an armed reserved force to deal with any contingency,” Gupta said, adding that the Delhi division of railways has been alerted about the lapses to make adequate arrangements.
Divisional railway manager (DRM) of Northern Railway’s Delhi division, RN Singh, said that they are working towards upgrading the existing facility and surveillance equipment. “We are changing the existing CCTV cameras with the cameras with better picture quality. We are also adding more cameras. At major stations in Delhi, we have sufficient equipment. There are always issues, which are addressed time to time,” the DRM said.
Singh also said they have formed a squad of the Railway Protection Force to catch unauthorised entrants in the station area. “We are collecting at least ₹50,000 per day through fine. At least 100 to 150 people are caught every day,” the DRM said.
Another senior officer from the railways, who did not wish to be named, said that it is the police’s responsibility to maintain law and order. “If the boundary walls of the stations are broken, police must ensure there is no vandalism by the unruly people. A railway station cannot be as protected as an airport. If there’s a crime in railways, it does not happen because of the lack of security infrastructure,” the officer said.
Experts feel that scanning a million passengers is not possible and therefore focus should be on intelligence gathering and over upgrading surveillance equipment at railway stations.
“No one can ensure frisking of 10 lakh passengers. Stations in India are an open space and can’t be enclosed. We need to deploy intelligence officers and conduct random checks in trains, at platforms and in the vicinity. Introducing latest technology like face detection cameras and intrusion alarms is also something we should look forward to. These practices are in place in cities abroad. It is time we head in that direction,” said Prakash Singh, former Uttar Pradesh director general of police.