What safety? 26000 men caught in ladies’ coaches on Mumbai local trains from Jan to June

Mumbai: Awareness campaigns by Indian Railways have come to naught. Despite repeated announcements asking men not to travel in ladies’ compartments of Mumbai locals, 26264 men were arrested for doing just that between January 1, 2010, and June 30, 2013. The Railway Protection Force (RPF) said 15,900 men were arrested by the Western Railway personnel and 10,356 by Central Railway.

With women commuters complaining about increasing incidents of men boarding the women-only compartments of locals, the RPF has intensified its drive to nab the offenders. “The RPF formed a special women’s squad three years ago to man the six ladies special trains run by the Central Railway. The squad stops men from travelling in women’s compartments to prevent molestation, eve-teasing and passing of lewd remarks against women,” said Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF, Central Railway.

If such nefarious activities are noticed, the squad informs male colleagues patrolling the next station to take action against the culprits. Bohra said CCTVs installed at all suburban stations are closely monitored to nail offenders. He appealed to the women to call the Central Railway RPF helpline (1275) in case they notice something suspicious.

Rajendra Rupnavar, Sr.DSC/RPF/Western Railway says women should not hesitate to report even the smallest of problems via its helpline (1311). “RPF personnel have been deployed at all stations, especially next to the ladies’ compartments to ensure men don’t enter these coaches. Also, an additional 100 RPF personnel and 200 home guards have been assigned the task of looking after the safety of women commuters,” he said.

The Western Railway PRO wants greater awareness to be created on the issue, especially among men. Already, there are announcements made at stations and advertisements in newspapers, asking men not to travel in ladies’ compartments.

Subhash Gupta, railway activist and president of Yatri Sangh, Mumbai, suggested that all ladies’ compartments in a train must be aligned. This way, the RPF, which is short-staffed, will be able to monitor the ladies’ coaches easily.