BENGALURU: A total of 4,594 men have been arrested in trains passing through railways stations in Bengaluru in the past seven-and-a-half months for harassing women onboard trains or entering the ladies compartments. The specially constituted ‘Shakti’ units of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) carried out the arrests. The RPF decided to constitute a special team to ensure the safety of women passengers in July 2019 after they received a lot of complaints from women about harassment onboard trains, said senior divisional security commissioner (SDSC), Debashmita Chattopadhyay Banerjee. “Two Shakti teams, ‘Chennamma’ and ‘Abbakka’, each comprising six women cops and headed by an assistant sub inspector, were deployed in trains and stations. The response from women passengers who commute long distances for work has been very encouraging,” she said.
Following the suggestion given by the Shakti teams, women passengers who frequently travel on the Vishwamanava Express, Tippu Express and Chamundi Express have created WhatsApp groups with one passenger in each train serving as a representative. “Some Shakti team members are also a part of these groups and they get real-time alerts on any untoward incidents taking place on trains or regarding any assistance women require,” the SDSC said.
Asked about the reason behind 612 cases being booked on an average every month, Banerjee said, “The surprise element is key to catching so many violators. For instance, if the team visits KSR station today, they plan to visit Bangarpet the next day and Marikuppam the following day. No one can predict where our teams will be on any given day except its members. So, those who pose any kind of threat to women are totally caught off guard.”
Those caught have been booked under different sections of the Railways Act, 1989 Sections 162, 147, 140 and 165, based on the offences committed. Men frequently entered the ladies coaches on the Bengaluru-Mysuru and Bengaluru-Bangarpet sections. “Just last week, an elderly lady came to the RPF office to thank us. Two college students came over to appreciate us as well,” Banerjee added.