Mumbai's safety at stake, 50 walkie-talkies for 3,919 GRP

While inadequate force strength has always been an issue, the GRP even lacks basic equipment and infrastructure needed to keep passengers travelling in Mumbai's suburban stations secure.

mumbai Updated: Nov 05, 2014 18:25 IST
Saurabh M Joshi
Saurabh M Joshi
Hindustan Times
Government Railway Police,GRP,Mumbai suburban trains

The Government Railway Police (GRP), the force responsible for the security of the 80 lakh daily commuters on Mumbai’s suburban trains, is unequipped to guard the network. While inadequate force strength has always been an issue, the GRP even lacks basic equipment and infrastructure needed to keep passengers secure.

The force, which has a sanctioned strength of 3,919 personnel to man 136 suburban stations, has just 120 walkie-talkie handsets, of which only 50 are in working condition. What’s worse; the personnel manning the women’s compartments at night do not have access to walkie-talkies to communicate with other personnel or the nearest railway stations in case of an emergency.

The Hindustan Times has over the past few years, through its reports, highlighted the issue of women’s safety on trains. In June 2011, the Bombay high court had taken cognisance of an HT report and asked the GRP and Railway Protection Force (RPF) to chalk out plans to ensure the safety of women commuters.

Government red-tape is one of the major reasons for the GRP being unequipped. A proposal demanding 20 additional walkie-talkies each for major stations, such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, and 10 each for smaller stations has been lying untouched with the government since 2011.

In a train network as complicated as Mumbai’s, the walkietalkie handsets could prove to be an effective tool for GRP personnel to coordinate during a crisis situation or to even report incidents to the nearest police stations.

At present, only a few senior inspectors, bomb detection and disposal squads and the railway police commandos have access to walkie-talkies.

“The senior inspectors being equipped with walkietalkie handsets are of no use, as the personnel who report to them do not have a ‘ oneto-all’ walkie-talkie handset. How will the senior inspectors communicate in an emergency situation such as the 7/11 serial train blasts,” said a senior GRP officer, requesting anonymity.

Cur rently, GRP personnel use their mobile phones for communication, which is considered unsecure for official communication by almost all agencies across the globe. “There are times when the GRP control room is forced to pass on a crucial message to the Railway Protection Force ( RPF), who then pass t he communique on to t he desired GRP personnel,” said another GRP officer, requesting anonymity.

“We are making optimum use of all the resources available with us, and will followup for further upgradation with the state authorities,” said Dr Ravinder Singal, GRP commissioner.

First Published: Nov 05, 2014 18:00 IST