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Panic buttons to apps: How Railways put women’s security on track

Railways has taken steps in the past nine years to make the journey of women commuters safer.

mumbai Updated: May 23, 2019 09:25 IST
KAY Dodhiya
KAY Dodhiya
Mumbai
Mumbai,Women safety,Railways
Panic buttons on suburban trains, CCTV surveillance on local trains and at stations, a talk-back system to reach out to the train guard and apps to get police help in case of emergency — these are few of the many steps the Railways has taken in the past nine years to make the journey of women commuters safer. (Praful Gangurde/HT)

Panic buttons on suburban trains, CCTV surveillance on local trains and at stations, a talk-back system to reach out to the train guard and apps to get police help in case of emergency — these are few of the many steps the Railways has taken in the past nine years to make the journey of women commuters safer.

A list of these measures, taken since 2011, was submitted by the Railways in response to a suo motu litigation the Bombay high court (HC) had initiated after taking cognisance of two HT reports, highlighting how a 25-year-old woman was sexually assaulted in a local train at Navi Mumbai and was discouraged by the Thane railway police from lodging a complaint.

Earlier on May 3, a bench of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice NM Jamdar disposed of the suo motu litigation, observing “railway authorities have understood the seriousness of the issue and are taking steps towards its redressal”. The HC also encouraged the Railways to continue with its initiatives.

According to the Railways’ responses to the HC, apart from increasing the number of policemen at stations, home guards and Maharashtra Security Corporation jawans have been deployed on railway premises to tackle petty crimes, especially offences against women.

Earlier in May, the Railways told the court that railway police were also constantly undertaking special drives to ensure the security of suburban women commuters.

Ravinder Bhaker, public relation officer, Western Railway (WR), said, “The court has been informed of initiatives like CCTV surveillance in all compartments, panic buttons and talk-back system. We also told the court that we’re currently testing a mobile app, which will allow women commuters across India to press a button in case of emergency. Through this, they can send out their location to the nearest railway police station.”

Apart from this, the Railways told the HC that it was setting up a WhatsApp group, ‘Sakhi’, to keep women commuters updated with the latest developments concerning their safety and extend necessary assistance in distress. The group would also act a platform to address safety issues and for counselling. “An app called Eye-Watch Women Security was also launched to help women seek police help in time of need,” the Railways had told the HC.

Bhaker said they have been conducting awareness drives and making use of the public address system to inform women commuters about safety measures in place and how these can be accessed. He said these steps had gone a long way in curbing crimes against women in local and outstation trains.

First Published: May 23, 2019 02:25 IST