Mumbai: Alok Bohra is Senior Divisional Security Commissioner (Sr.DSC) of the Railway Protection Force, Mumbai Division on the Central Railway. His jurisdiction extends over the network from Mumbai to Bhusawal, Lonavala and Roha. In an interview, Bohra discussed the RPF’s responsibilities and the problems it has to cope with. Excerpts from the interview:
Usually, commuters are not able to distinguish between the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Government Railway Police (GRP) and they are unaware about their responsibilities. Would you explain the difference between the two?
The RPF works under the Ministry of Railways. Its principal duty, till 2003, was protecting railway property. Through an amendment to The Railways Act, the commercial, operations and vigilance departments have also been empowered to prosecute offenders with regard to railway property.
The GRP works under the state government. Law and order is a state subject and consequently the GRP has vast powers under the Indian Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Bombay Police Act, to ensure security on railway premises and trains. The RPF Act has also been amended to allow the RPF to assist the GRP in matters of railway property and passenger security.
Then, what happens to accountability?
The GRP, RPF and ticket checkers are jointly responsible as they are all present in the passenger area and have overlapping responsibilities. For example, a case of nuisance on a train can be dealt with by the RPF under the Railways Act, or by the GRP under the IPC or Bombay Police Act. Every crime, or crowd presence has a law and order implication, particularly in a crowded suburban system like ours.
There seems to be a serious staff crunch in the RPF. What is being done about this?
We expect the vacancies to be filled up next year. In the meanwhile, we have been redeploying staff according to priority and in coordination with the GRP and local police. More than 50,000 cases have been registered under The Railways Act this year alone.
Is CCTV footage shared with the GRP?
When the GRP or any investigating agency requests for CCTV data with respect to some investigation, it is provided to them. We also request the GRP to monitor the CCTV coverage to maintain an effective check, facilitate quick action and better assistance in investigation.
Why are RPF personnel not deployed on every train?
Due to a shortage of personnel we are constrained to depute escorts only on special suburban trains for women and during the night on select mail/express trains. Ticket-checking staff on the trains assist us in this regard.