In a bid to step up security for women commuters, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has started a special drive against men boarding ladies’ compartments in suburban trains.
Official sources said that in the last six days, over 100 male passengers, who were found travelling in women’s compartments on the Beach-Tambaram section were fined Rs 500. The drive, which began a week ago, would soon be extended to the rest of the Chennai Division, the sources added.
“The aim of the drive is to restrict men from entering ladies compartments,” said S R Gandhi, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, Chennai Division.
“As of now, no major crimes have been reported against women passengers in our division. Yet, we do not want to take any chances as the threat of anti-social elements indulging in violence against vulnerable commuters always persists,” he pointed out.
As a precursor to the drive, RPF personnel carried out an awareness campaign on EMU trains last week, warning male commuters not to enter ladies’ compartments.
According to an official, male passengers were allowed to commute in ladies compartments of EMUs during specific timings a decade ago. However, after the EMU service was introduced on the broad gauge section, exclusive coaches were earmarked for women commuters, with male travellers being totally banned from entering them.
However, several men still inadvertently continue to travel in the ladies’ compartments after 9 pm. They seem to be under the impression that the ladies’ compartment becomes a general coach after 9 pm, wherein all passengers are legally entitled to board any coach of an EMU.
An official said that the violators were booked under Section 162 in The Railways Act (Entering carriage or other place reserved for females — If a male person knowing or having reason to believe that a carriage, compartment, berth or seat in a train reserved by a railway administration for the exclusive use of females, without lawful excuse).