New Delhi: With mobility of women increasing and many of them now taking train journey on their own, the Indian railways has increased presence of policewomen on trains and platforms and is working to improve overall safety for them.
“An alert Railways has taken a number of steps to protect women and children during the journey and these efforts have enhanced the sense of security among women,” Railway minister Piyush Goyal said on Twitter.
Adding to this, the Railways ministry officials said several vulnerable routes have been identified and 2,500 trains (on an average) are escorted by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) daily in addition to 2,200 trains escorted by Government Railway Police (GRP) of different states daily.
Entry of men in compartment reserved for women remains the biggest headache for the RPF and last year over one lakh (1,40,937) men were arrested for entering into compartments reserved for women. This number has already reached 35,949 till May 2019 due to effective policing on trains.
Officials said that the RPF is also keeping a watchful eye on trafficked children and women or those who have run away from homes. In 2018 total 3,552 girls were rescued from traffickers and 967 women were provided assistance or were rescued from traffickers.
The number this year till May is 1,300 (girl child rescued from traffickers) and 271 (women saved).
In addition, the RPF managed to save lives of nine girls and 25 women in 2018 and this number till May this year is four and 15, respectively.
Railways officials said that in order to provide better security to women the RPF has formed special women wings or the Mahila Vahinies termed as Bhairvi, Vaishali, Shakti, Nirbhaya, Tejaswani etc. to protect women passengers and to apprehend chain snatchers, molesters and eve teasers on board trains.
In other trains, where escorts are provided, the train escorting parties have been briefed to keep extra vigil on the lady passengers travelling alone, ladies coaches en-route and at halting stations, official said.
“RPF supplements the efforts of Government Railway Police (GRP) to provide better protection and security to passengers.
“Cases of Indian Penal Code (IPC) crimes in Railways are registered and investigated by the concerned GRP,” a senior Railway official told The Asian Age.
CCTV is effectively used for surveillance at about 453 stations and now plans are to have CCTV on all trains carrying passenger. In fact on June 19, 2019, the RPF used CCTV footage to nab two thieves who picked up a mobile of a woman passenger on board Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi.
The Railways has a Helpline number 182 for security related assistance to passengers in distress.
In addition the social media is monitored constantly to respond to passengers particularly women passengers to enhance their security and address their security concerns.
The Railway official said that regular gender sensitization of RPF personnel has been made part of briefing and de-briefing and 301 women Sub-Inspectors and 4216 women Constables, which is 50 per cent of the total ongoing recruitment against 9,000 posts, are being recruited in RPF to strengthen the security of women passengers.
“At present, the percentage of women constables in RPF is 2.25 per cent. The number (of women constables) is less in the entire Railways. Keeping this in mind, the Prime Minister gave a direction for recruitment,” Mr Goyal informed Rajya Sabha on Friday.
The ladies special trains running in metropolitan cities are also escorted by lady RPF personnel.
Lauding their efforts Railway minister Piyush Goyal told Parliament that “the was tagged with the GRP for last two years and did a good job in the area of women safety and addressing child abduction cases.”