Escalating theft cases in trains punctures tall security claims

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Nearly 300 passengers on board the Janshatabdi Exp were looted on Tuesday night.
Introduction of new trains, increasing frequency of existing trains, apart from better passenger amenities, are a few expectations of the people from the upcoming Rail Budget. And the new dispensation also claims to make Indian railways equivalent to the world class railways but have they also thought about making travel by this means more safe and sound.

A recent incident has highlighted the plight of train travellers, where some 30 armed dacoits looted more than 300 passengers on board the Janshatabdi Express which was heading to Patna from Ranchi on Tuesday night. This looting and robbing rail passenger was a rare incident in the past but now seems to be a routine event.

Safety and security of passengers is always at risk due to the rising number of crime on trains. It is a major area of concern for Indian Railways and needs to be dealt strictly.

More than 300 passengers on board the Janshatabdi Express were looted

As per a recent National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, crime in trains has seen an upsurge over the past three years with thefts and robberies being the major crimes committed against passengers.

The NCRB railway crime report also reveals an escalation in robberies in trains. Where the figure of robberies across the country was 318 in 2008, it rose to 426 in 2009 and to 509 during 2010.

As far as the cases of thefts are concerned, 13,468 cases were reported in 2008, 14,469 cases in 2009 and in 2010 the figures stood at 15,273 representing an increase every year.

To ensure the safety of passengers and to prevent occurrence of such events, the Railway Protection Force(RPF) was setup with the aim to ensure passengers' safety which has so far failed to put a restraint on crime graph.

Where is our Railway Protection Force:

The Railways Norms Committee in 1985 had recommended the recruitment of at least 8000 constables to guard the trains, but till 2009, only 3,149 GRP personnel were deployed for the task. Why?

Acute shortage of personnel results in most trains being unescorted while the others have only four or five armed policemen on board. Not more than four to six personnel are deployed to ensure safety of thousands of passengers on every train.

According to the statistics of the NCRB, in the last eight years, Bihar has recorded 2,076 crimes on trains. They accounted for almost 11 per cent of the crimes reported by the railway police across the country.

If such an incident can happen on a train like Janshatabdi, one can easily understand how safe are other trains plying on this route. Deployment of forces becomes more important in the States of Bihar and Jharkhand where trains are on the Maoist radar. Instances in the past showed Maoists have held the trains' hostage to fulfill their nefarious intentions.

Even the State Governments of Bihar and Jharkhand have never addressed this matter properly. The Governments in association with the Railway officials should formulate plans to tackle such situations. Proper policing on trains and platforms would significantly reduce the number of robberies and snatching.

It is high time Nitish Government in Bihar starts cracking the whip on criminals to curb the ever increasing graph of crime on the national carrier. The state Government must also improve its vigilance on trains to avoid Maoist activities.

Soon after taking office, Railway Minister Sadananda Gowda eyeballed the problems of the passengers, and said that the new dispensation will bring major changes in the railway sector by focusing on the ‘four S'- safety, service, security and speed.

Well Mr. Gowda we are ardently waiting for the Rail Budget which will let us know how you will bring the change.

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