On local trains, it’s graffiti grief for women

A woman journalist was in for a shock recently when she started receiving lewd calls from strangers. On enquiring, she found that someone had scribbled her phone number along with an obscene message in a local train compartment. She then lodged a police complaint.
While her complaint is pending with the cyber crime cell, the menace has been giving other women commuters a tough time. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has registered several cases of damaging or defacing railway property, of which five per cent are cases of obscene graffiti against women, officials say.

Such graffiti is usually seen in luggage compartments and second class ladies’ compartments that become general compartments after 11 pm.

Over the past five years, the RPF registered 766 offences on the Western Railway (WR) and 15,311 on Central Railway (CR). These include defacing trains, damaging banners or altering letters or figures in trains or on railway premises. However, the railway administration has failed to take serious action as it “does not have separate data on cases of obscene graffiti in local trains”.

Women commuters prefer not to approach police. WR commuter Neha Dutt said, “It would be better if the railway authorities frequently cleaned the train coaches and removed the obscene posters and graffiti.”

Before 2004, such cases were handled by Government Railway Police (GRP). Later, the RPF was empowered to deal with such cases under Indian Railways Act, 1989.

In April 2002, the then railway police commissioner Rakesh Maria formed three squads comprising 10 police personnel. Police had then nabbed two culprits red-handed.

On April 18, 2002, a 23-year-old final year engineering student and on April 25, 2002, another 20-year-old college student were caught while scribbling vulgar graffiti on the wall of second class ladies’ compartment. RPF authorities, however, said it was difficult to catch the offenders red-handed.

WR registers cases of defacing trains under section 166 A and 166 B of Indian Railways Act, regarding damage to railway property. The CR’s RPF, however, registers these cases as creating nuisance under sections 145 A, 145 B and 145 C of the Act. The minor penalty entails imprisonment for a month or a fine Rs 500 to Rs 1,000.

Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, CR said, “This is the work of perverted minds. Though the law takes care of such offenders, the permanent solution is that every member of the society must respect women.”


RPF holds court on Chennai Mail

From 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. ; from Kozhikode station to Manjeswaram

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) attached to the Palakkad Division of the Southern Railway held a court on the Chennai Mail during its run between Kozhikode and Manjeswaram on Friday. The venture was first of its kind in the State aimed at curbing crimes on trains and railway stations, RPF authorities here said.

The court commenced at 7 a.m. when the train reached Kozhikode and went on till 1 p.m. when it reached Manjeswaram station. Normally, cases relating to happenings on train were conducted at the Railway Magistrate Court. Mobile courts, conducted without notification, were expected to check crimes on trains to some extent, the authorities said. More such courts would be held in the coming days.

On Friday, 60 cases were disposed of on the train. A total of Rs.20,000 was collected as penalty for various offences, including dangerously travelling on the footboard, travelling in reservation coaches with ordinary tickets, selling of eatables on the train and station premises, causing nuisance through various means such as beggary, carrying of non-booked luggage and placing luggage in passages.

The mobile court team comprised Railway Special Magistrate B.M. Azzu, Kannur RPF Circle Inspector P. Vijayakumar, Sub Inspector M. Narayanan, Assistant Sub Inspectors V.P. Intish, Kathiresh Babu and Anil Kumar, senior civil police officer Bineesh and civil police officers Renjith and Ajayan.


Published in: on July 20, 2013 at 3:35 am  Leave a Comment  
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More powers for RPF to crack railway property theft cases

Railway Protection Force (RPF) officers have been vested with more powers in respect of investigation of cases relating to theft of railway property or its unlawful possession consequent to the amendments in the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act.

The striking feature of the amended Act is that it has empowered RPF investigators to register a case under the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act and commence inquiry upon receipt of information itself.

This is the first time that the Act has been amended after it was enacted by the Parliament and came into force in 1966.

Railway property, as per the Act, includes any goods, money or valuable security or animal, belonging to or in the charge or possession of railway administration.

Prior to the amendment, the RPF officers could register a case under the Act only after an arrest was made and start the inquiry thereafter.

RPF authorities here say Sections 3, 4 and 8 of the Act had been amended by introducing extra words in these three sections.

The crux of the amendment is that the inquiry officer need not wait till the arrest of a person.

The officers have now been empowered to register a case and begin inquiry upon receiving information about the commission of an offence punishable under the Act even without or before the arrest.

The sources of information includes oral complaints, those in writing, reports from railway officials, telephone messages, petitions, press reports and those given by secret sources.

In addition to protecting and safeguarding railway property, passenger area and passengers, the RPF has also been vested with the responsibility of escorting passenger trains and providing access control, regulation and general security on platforms, passenger and circulating areas.

Power to investigate

They have been vested with the powers to investigate cases booked under the Railway Act and the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act.

Even after the amendment, the inquiry officer has the authority to register a case after an arrest is made.

This power has not been taken away by the amendment; a senior RPF officer here said adding that it had given additional powers to the inquiry officer in respect of registration of a case under the Act for better investigation and prosecution.

The number of cases booked under the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act in Tiruchi Railway Division was 49 from January to October this year. The number of those arrested was 58 and the value of the stolen property recovered was Rs.74,205.

The cases booked in 2011 (January to December) was 70 with the number of arrested persons being 93. The value of the stolen property recovered was Rs.1.54 lakh, say the authorities.

‘RPF officers could register a case under the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act and commence inquiry upon receipt of information about the commission of an offence,’ writes R.Rajaram


RPF gives track death lessons at schools, colleges

To curb trespassing, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) on the Western line has drawn up a list of chronic spots and launched a lecture series in schools and colleges located around it. The aim, say officials, is not only to make youths aware of the danger involved, but also to ensure that they go home and dissuade their parents from taking a short cut across the tracks.

According to GRP statistics, 1,447 were killed due to trespassing of the total 2,551 accidental deaths on railway lines till September this year, which comes to 57%.

“The chronic locations are Jogeshwari, Kandivli, Khar, Mahim, Virar, Nalasopara, Dadar and Elphinstone Road stations. In several instances, commuters, particularly youngsters who plug in earphones while walking have lost lives unable to hear the motorman honking,” said a RPF official. “Hopping across tracks to change platforms or jumping over track dividers is observed routinely. To discourage this, we decided to start a series of lectures in schools and colleges. We feel if youngsters are convinced, a bulk of the problem is solved.”

The series began earlier this week. RPF personnel visit institutions and get in touch with the management. At least two personnel equipped with data and facts present the lecture. Transport experts say that more infrastructure projects which will provide alternate and quicker transportation are needed. The RPF also sought GRP help for the drive.


WR to deploy private guards to secure tracks

More than 36,000 people have died on the city’s railway tracks in the last decade, 24,000 of them dying because of trespassing. Western Railway, where 15,000 of the deaths have occurred (over 10,700 due to trespassing) in the same period, has now decided to deploy private security guards at the most accident-prone spots along its suburban tracks. The rationale is not only to save lives, but also to save the crores that WR pays in compensation to accident victims annually.

WR is working on a proposal to hire a private security firm for the purpose. A senior WR official said, “We have been paying Rs 15-16 crore in compensation to accident victims annually (the amount includes sums given to the next of kin of deceased individuals and victims who receive injuries). Comparatively, the cost of hiring say 100 private security guards for patrolling our tracks on a 60-km stretch (Churchgate-Virar) will cost no more than Rs 60 lakh a year.”

Apart from preventing people from crossing tracks, the guards would also be responsible for taking accident victims to ambulances, making timely medical aid available to them. “The arrangement will save money as well as lives,” the official said.

WR’s chief public relations officer Sharat Chandrayan said, “Trespassing has come down since we started deploying Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel along the tracks. We are thinking of deploying private guards so that RPF personnel can concentrate more on tasks like protecting railway assets.” In February, WR deployed 150-200 RPF personnel and home guards at accident-prone spots in Dadar, Khar, Jogeshwari, Goregaon, Kandivli, Borivli, Nalasopara, Virar and Bhayander.

Deaths on tracks also affect the punctuality of services. “If trespassing is checked, it will help resolve this problem as well,” the official said.

“There are 89 foot over bridges (FOBs) and seven subways at WR’s suburban stations. Commuters should use these instead of crossing tracks,which is illegal anyway. Sixteen more FOBs are planned in Kandivli, Goregaon, Malad, Naigaon, Virar, Jogeshwari, Lower Parel, Dadar, Vile Parle and Matunga. The added infrastructure will be in vain if commuters stick to old habits.”


Published in: on August 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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More women now report about crimes on trains

There are more reported incidents of crime against women passengers during train journeys. This fact is verified by the number of complaints registered through the helpline numbers of government railway police (GRP) and railway protection force (RPF). However, senior officials of both forces said it didn’t indicate an increase in the crime rate. More women come forward and register their complaints, particularly after the Soumya murder, they said.

In 2011, GRP registered 40 cases that include molestation and eve teasing, while till July 24, 2012 they have already registered 40 cases. Similar is the case with RPF 22 were registered in 2011, while this year 25 cases have been filed till July.

The RPF (9995040000) and GRP (9846200100) helplines are witnessing more calls since last year, officials said.

Southern Railway Thiruvananthapuram divisional security commissioner K J Joy said women passengers, who faced an issue, avoided legal procedures and related tangles. “This reluctance prevented many cases from getting reported and I believe that despite our efforts there are unfortunate incidents.

There are more registered cases now because women passengers want justice and we ensure it from our side. I am glad that families are supporting them, which is the need of the hour.

To avoid situations like last week – when the RPF personnel released an offender – we have instructed our men to follow rules stringently,” Joy said. Echoing similar sentiments, GRP SP, Rajan John said that the significant increase is also due to the response and help both forces facilitate. “The smooth coordination we enjoy with RPF and local police help us to take up all requests, even pleas for medical help. However, absence of personnel is an impediment,” Rajan said. Official said, GRP has 500 personnel in Kerala and RPF has close to 750.

But the force is insufficient argue officials. Meanwhile GRP has launched a new initiative titled ‘Subhayathramangalam’ under which passengers can register complaints with beat officers on trains and avail a copy of the complaint immediately.

Passenger need not go to police station to keep track of the case, they can get case procedure details through a telephone call.

Thiruvananthapuram: There are more reported incidents of crime against women passengers during train journey, reveals the complaints registered through the helpline numbers of government railway police (GRP) and railway protection force (RPF). However, senior officials of both these forces said it didn’t indicate an increase in crime rate but only proves that more women now come forward to register their complaints, particularly after the Saumya murder.

In 2011, GRP registered 40 cases that include molestation and eve teasing, while in the year 2012 up to July 24, they have already registered 40 cases. Similar is the case with RPF which registered 22 cases of crime against women in 2011, but already filed 25 cases up to July 2012.

The RPF helpline 9995040000 and GRP’s 9846200100 are witnessing an increase in calls since last year, officials said.

K J Joy, Southern Railway Thiruvananthapuram divisional security commissioner, said that previously women passengers who faced an issue had used to avoid legal procedures and related tangles. “That prevented many cases from getting reported and I believe that despite our efforts to remain vigil there are situations occurring when the modesty of a woman is outraged. The rise in cases registered is because women passengers now want justice and since we ensure that, they are coming forward. I am glad that their families are supporting them, which is the need of the hour. To avoid situations like last week when the RPF personnel released an offender we have instructed the force to follow rules stringently,” Joy said.

Echoing this, GRP SP, Rajan John said that significant increase in response is result of both forces facilitating support for the passengers.

“The smooth coordination we have with RPF and local police are helping us to meet the demands and both our helplines are receiving pleas for even medical help. However absence of personnel is an impediment affecting both of us,” Rajan pointed put.

While GRP just has 500 personnel for the state, RPF has close to 750 personnel, which according to officials are too low to meet the demands.

Meanwhile GRP has also launched ‘Subhayathramangalam’, a venture under which passengers can register complaints with beat officers on train and avail a copy of the complaint immediately. The scheme is to help passenger avoid going to police station and receive details on case procedure through telephone.


RPF might be separated from railways

The Railway Protection Force ( RPF) is likely to be separated from the railways, and some plans are afoot in this regard.

While RPF sources said IB has given some reasons for it, it has not been decided when and how it will be done. But the RPF employees are apprehensive about it.

On some earlier occasions, although discussions on the issue were held, it is for first time when the question raised about separation of RPF from the railways, sources said.

If the IB report is implemented, the Central Government could take a decision to give responsibility of RPF to home ministry by year- end.

IB has raised several questions on the existence of RPF. Sources further said an association has been formed in RPF which is coming in the way of smooth working of the organisation.

Sources further said earlier an exercise was done to merge GRP with the district police but the state governments were opposed the proposal. As a result, the Central Government did not take any initiative towards this direction.

IB said the RPF staff was not properly trained to deal with the crimes taking place on trains.

During the last few years scenario of crime has changed but the RPF team has not changed.

IB further said even after several efforts, the trains and passengers are not safe. Working pattern of GRP has also been mentioned in the proposal. It was said that as two police forces work in the railways, they try to put the blame on each other, sources added. So, proper investigation of crimes could not be done and neither GRP, nor RPF take the responsibility for any crime.

RPF was given status of semi- military force on September 20, 1985 and ever since then it has been working to the status.


Published in: on July 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm  Comments (1)  
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Central railway may also get women talking

The drive in which the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has started approaching women commuters for feedback and suggestions on how their commute can be made safe and secure has only been implemented on the western line, even though the number of women commuters is far higher on the Central

The incident in which a woman was molested in a local train had taken place on the Central Railway in Belapur.

“The Central Railway has asked us to provide them with a copy of the feedback forms, as they too want to check what suggestions the women commuters have given. Railway authorities across the city are trying to take measures according to the their experiences and based on what they think will be best for women commuters. However, the idea of taking feedback from commuters is unique,” said Yash Mishra, senior inspector of Churchgate RPF.

Anil Sharma, IG (Central Railway) said, “We will wait for the results of their exercise and then decide on whether we will be doing the same. It is not necessary what the Western Railway is doing should also be done by us. We can use some other plan or exercise for the same purpose.”


Published in: on October 26, 2011 at 6:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Software to detect suspicious activities

Railways looking at software which can alert control room and also record inaction by staffers

To Overcome the information overload due to the installation of thousands of CCTV cameras, the Railways has decided to use a software that will flag off any suspect and unusual behaviour on the screen and set off an alarm. Moreover, the software will also record the action taken, if any, by the security personnel thereby making the system more accountable.

Recently, Central Railway (CR) opened the tender for the Rs 27-crore Integrated Security Scheme, while pre-bid preparations are in process for the Rs 18-crore Western Railway (WR) tender.

Chief security commissioner of Railway Protection Force (RPF), CR, Anil Sharma said, “In around four months, the tender will be awarded. We are analysing how successful will the new software be in our security system. Apart from this, CR will train the staff in the science of behaviour so they can identify suspicious activities easily.”


Filing FIRs on moving train to be easier

The system, worth Rs 350 crore, will not only hold surveillance on the inflow and outflow of people to and from major stations through more than 200 control rooms, but also be an all-India helpline for passengers in distress.

“A high-level committee, which has the home secretary of Karnataka as one of the members, has been set up to suggest mechanism for filing FIRs in moving trains,” Railways Minister of State K H Muniyappa told Deccan Herald here.

Significant step

The measure is significant in the context of the rising graph of crimes, including theft on running trains. As per reports presented in Parliament, the number of crimes, including theft of passengers’ belongings, reported on running trains was 7,860 (in 2007), 7,946 (2008), 8,739 (2009) and 146 in January 2010.

Passengers are often harassed during filing of FIRs for crimes committed on moving trains as there is a clash of jurisdiction between different authorities with the law and order coming under the state government and railway security under the Railway Protection Force (RPF). And then as the train passes through several states, there may be disputes on which authority should handle the case.

“Once the committee gives its report, it will be sent to the Home Ministry, which in turn, will issue directives to the states,” said the minister, who is in charge of railway safety and security.

Elaborating on the proposed security system, which includes four features, the minister said there will be CCTV Surveillance and Intelligent Video Analysis system with alarms. It will also involve access control by building perimeter walls and setting up blocks to protect porous railway stations. X-Ray machines for personal and baggage screening will be in place like airports along with a high-tech bomb detection and disposal system.

On an average, 1,275 trains are escorted by the RPF daily, in addition to escorting of about 2,200 trains by the Government Railway Police (GRP).
As part of the process, dog squads in different zones will be augmented. Commando training will be imparted to selected RPF staff. Steps will be taken to enhance the quality and content of the training of the RPF.

Under the modernisation scheme, security gadgets will be procured and the weaponry upgraded for enhancing the striking capability of the RPF. Regular coordination meetings will be held with the GRP and the state police at all levels to ensure proper registration and investigation of crime.

DH News Service