Railways seeks 2,000 more home guards as crimes increase on Mumbai trains
After 2018 sees twice as many robberies than 2017, officials look to add to 800 existing personnel to help RPF, GRPUpdated: Jan 22, 2019 18:49 IST
With the number of train robberies having more than doubled in 2018, the Mumbai Suburban Railways has asked for at least 2,000 more Home Guards to help improve security in Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts. If the proposal is approved by the state, as is expected, recruitment will begin in February. At present, the Railway Police Force (RPF) is assisted by 800 Home Guards who are stationed at railway stations and help keep a watch on ladies’ compartments at night.
According to the GRP, the number of robberies and thefts increased from 2017 to 2018, especially during the day. Serious crimes have also increased by 66.86% since 2017.Officers say this is proportional to the growing number of people on railway premises between the rush periods of 8am to 10am and 6pm to 9 pm. In 2018, the number of robbery cases jumped to 871 compared to 432 in 2017.
The RPF has 5,500 officers the number of Government Railway Police (GRP) officers has remained stagnant at 3,700 since 1982. With the 800 Home Guards, these officers are in charge of the security in 138 railway stations in Mumbai. According to the reply given by the GRP to a right-to-information query, the requirement of personnel in 2017 was 7,148 personnel. Officially, however, the number of sanctioned vacancies in the GRP is 3,347.
According to director general of police, deputy commandant of Home Guards and deputy director, Civil Defence, Sanjay Pandey, filling vacancies is the need of the hour. “We have vacancies of 3,165 personnel in Mumbai, 1,767 personnel in Thane and 317 in Raigad at present,” said Pandey.
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The staff shortage is being felt in railway stations, said activist Sameer Zaveri. “Manpower is insufficient at all the major stations. There are GRP personnel in the ladies’ compartment, which has made a difference, but still more personnel is needed as backup to ensure 100% safety to commuters,” he said.
To keep railway premises secure, the GRP has 279 personnel stationed at the headquarters; 1,516 on the Central line, and 1,138 on the Western line. Nearly 600 more personnel are posted in Thane and Palghar districts where one constable is accountable for 2,193 commuters. “Since day time crime has increased in the recent past, manning the trains and station premises during peak hours is the need of the hour,” said a GRP officer.
Pandey said the proposal to have 2,000 more Home Guards supplement the GRP’s strength has been submitted to the state government for approval. The Home Guards have asked that their pay be increased from Rs 400 to Rs 569 per day in addition to medical insurance and other benefits. “We have sent a proposal to the state government and are waiting for the reply,” said Pandey.