Rapes, molestation on local trains soar

MUMBAI: Robberies, thefts and cases of assaults on commuters have increased on the railways this year, compared to 2012. But the good news is that murder cases have dipped as have chain-snatchings and bag-stealing offences.

“Stretches like Kurla, Thane and Kalyan on the Central line and Mankhurd and Wadala on the Harbour line usually have a higher percentage of crimes. One reason is that a large number of unemployed youth live in the pockets of slums dotting the tracks in these areas,” said an activist.

GRP officials credit their all-women teams for controlling crimes committed by children and women in ladies’ compartments. The all-women teams, headed by a female officer and comprising five constables, dress in plainclothes and travel in ladies compartments posing as regular commuters. They have been instructed to look out for juveniles or women stealing handbags, jewellery or other valuables from commuters and nab them immediately. Chain-snatchings, where force is used, came down from 284 last year to 254, bag-stealing cases fell from 187 cases to 181 cases.

Pole robbers, who struck at commuters standing on the footboard of compartments, were common in the Bandra-Mahim belt till last year. But the GRP brought the menace under control by identifying chronic spots and deploying personnel there round the clock. A new trend observed on the Western line this year is of youths boarding locals from Elphinstone or Dadar station, before daybreak, and looting hapless commuters inside the coach. These youths leave their residences the previous night under the pretext of walking down to a popular temple in Prabhadevi. They have also been hitting cops posted on platforms and harassing women.

“The acid attack on nurse Preeti Rathi at Bandra Terminus is the only unsolved case of murder on the railways this year,” said senior inspector D D Vadmare of the railway crime branch. “We have been keeping a check on serious crimes by introducing a system where the performance of detection officers from every railway police station is frequently assessed. This has sent across a strong message in the force,” he said.

To curb mobile phone thefts, the most common offence on the railways, the crime branch formed a list of repeated offenders. “We externed some of them. As far as robberies are concerned, we try to build a case so the offender does not get bail easily or has to keep making rounds of court,” added Vadmare.