MUMBAI: Two months ago, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) constituted four special squads headed by female officers to focus on women’s security on the Harbour line, where commuters have often complained of feeling unsafe. In the two months, the squads have recorded more than a thousand offences and helped reduce instances of stunts.
“We noticed a pattern when youths were frequently caught for performing stunts in compartments adjacent to women’s coaches. They were usually trying to impress women travellers. Our special squads began conducting surprise checks on locals and station areas on Harbour line. They came across 118 cases of children involved in stunts on trains,” said Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, CR.
The special squads were instructed to look for unauthorized travellers in ladies coaches and drug addicts, apart from those performing stunts and travelling on rooftops. Central Railway ticket checkers also accompanied the squads.
Each special squad comprises five to seven members— a mix of male and female RPF personnel as well as home guards. A woman officer, though, was specifically appointed as the in-charge. “We believe female officers are able to relate better to problems faced by women commuters on Harbour line. They are far more sensitive, can react better and know how to tackle sticky situations,” said Bohra.
The squads work in two shifts: 6am-3pm and 3pm-11pm. They focus on four sensitive stretches of Mankhurd-Panvel, Kurla-Mankhurd, CST-Kurla and Wadala-King’s Circle.
A separate campaign is also underway since a fortnight on CR to secure women travelling late. RPF officers are posted at CST, Thane, Kalyan and Panvel post 9 pm to interact with commuters. They urge women to not board empty coaches and provide helpline numbers. The RPF posts female personnel in rakes for women.