Friday, 16 January 2015

The Government on Thursday proposed a series of measures to provide top-notch security cover to train passengers. The Centre will try to build a consensus with the State Governments to amend the Railway Protection Act, 1957 and hand over the entire  security to the Railway Protection Force, which is often at loggerheads with the Government Railway Police (GRP), controlled by the State Governments.

The new proposals also include online crime registrations and securing seats for ex-Armymen in all train coaches. The issue of Railway security came up for discussion at a conference attended by Central Ministers, State police officials and top brass of Railways and its security forces on Thursday.

Setting the ball rolling, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu called for an amendment in the law to ensure better policing of Railway premises. Home Minister Rajnath Singh admitted there were certain complexities in the jurisdictions of RPF and GRP and these need to be addressed.

Prabhu said involvement of multiple security agencies like GRP, RPF and State police in providing security to railways causes "discomforts" to passengers, and thus there is a need for achieving "seamless security."

While RPF, a wing of India Railways, is empowered to protect railway property, GRP, which falls under State Governments, is responsible for maintaining law and order on rail premises.

The proposed amendment to the RPF Act, 1957, aims to empower the force to lodge FIRs for crimes committed at railway stations and on trains. However, the proposed move is being opposed by many States as they feel it is against the federal framework since it would take away their role in maintaining law and order.

"I have written to all the Chief Ministers to take up the issue for providing seamless security. We have to address the issue. GRP, RPF and State police are three different organisations. While State police will remain with the States, the Railway Protection Act can be amended to ensure seamless policing. We need an amendment to the law to lodge FIR on running trains," Prabhu said.

Currently RPF personnel are deployed in 1300 trains, and GRP is deputed in 2200 trains. According to the plan, RPF will be manning about 5000 trains with recruitment and training process of 16,500 personnel nearing completion.

Prabhu also said that there is a plan to utilise ex-Armymen to protect passengers. Four seats in each coach will be reserved for them as part of railways' strategy to utilise their service in any emergency situation during the journey. Railways expect that allocating two berths at each side of the coach for ex-Armymen will go a long way in checking crime in trains. The new system is expected to be operational next month. According to the strategy, the side berths at entry points will be automatically reserved, once the ex-Army personnel books a ticket in his name.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh mooted a proposal for online registration of FIRs for railway crimes to deal with the issue of States' jurisdiction in the filing of complaints. "Law and order is primarily the States' responsibility. Complaints can be registered online and they can be referred to the State concerned for investigations to be expedited," Singh said.

Highlighting the attack on trains and difficulties in executing rail infrastructure projects in Naxal-affected areas, Prabhu and Singh both said there is a requirement for a geared-up police, specially-trained to face such situations. Prabhu also said there is a plan to set up a separate women's wing of RPF - Mahila Vahini to be deployed in ladies' compartment, besides installing CCTV in ladies' compartments.

Railway Board Chairman AK Mittal said passengers, especially women, do not feel safe travelling on trains due to the prevailing situation. "We have to regain their faith by finding a viable solution to the problem," he said.

Source: Daily Pioneer


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