BENGALURU: The Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel has given reassurance for security and guidance for women passengers of 10 pairs of trains originating and terminating within the Bengaluru Division.
Collective feedback on this initiative has been gathered from 1,14,353 passengers up to April 14.
The Bengaluru unit of the RPF was the first in the country to launch a pilot project focusing exclusively on women's safety on the Rani Chennamma Express in February 2019. The cops stopped their assistance at Hubballi railway station then as the jurisdiction ended there. This security initiative evolved into the 'My Saheli' initiative, emulated across the country.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, Debashmita Chattopadhyay Banerjee said that the earlier initiative has now progressed to an end-to-end security step. "We have coordinated with other divisions en route to ensure that women passengers are fully covered until they reach their destination station," she explained.
This initiative got a big boost due to the induction of 70 women constables and three Sub-inspectors to the Bengaluru RPF unit recently.
Elaborating on the process, Banerjee said, "With the help of the commercial department, we identify vulnerable women passengers on the trains well in advance. A survey done in October 2018 revealed that women who were single, the elderly, or those with children were the prime targets for miscreants keen on chain snatching, thefts, or other related crimes. RPF staff, all part of the 'Women Shakti' team, get on board these coaches and educate them about the RPF escort team on the train and share their contact numbers. The number of the train guard too is shared with them while women travelling in AC coaches are additionally given numbers of attendants. The All-India security helpline number 139 too is shared with all."
Former Inspector General of RPF, South Western Railway, DB Kasar, is said to have played a crucial role in this women-oriented safety initiative.
RPF staff of different divisions also check on them at stations en route. The posting of armed women cops at black spots (frequent crime spots) have helped in reducing crimes there drastically, she added.
An assessment of the feedback shows it has received a big thumbs up from the women. "We have collected 1,14,353 filled-up forms from passengers. The fact that someone watches out for them throughout made them feel very safe during the journey was a common thread spelled out by many. Some feedback helped us improve our initiative. A couple of women suggested making announcements of the numbers through loudspeakers at stations and we adopted that," the top cop said.
The ten train pairs covered under My Saheli operation are: Sanghamitra Express, Double Decker Express to Chennai, KSR– Mys Express, Kanyakumari Express, Rajdhani Express (New Delhi), Udyan Express, Mys-Solapur Express, KSR -Belgaum and YPR-Howrah (three different trains) and Ypr-Kannur Express. Two trains, one departing to Shivamogga from KSR and another from Yesvantpur to Howrah are offered security cover at KSR and at Yesvantpur stations respectively.