At a time when security is being strengthened in railway stations across the country, Puducherry Railway Station is lagging behind.
The station, which caters to 106 trains weekly (up and down), does not even have a compound wall and is open from all sides. Though there is a proper entrance on the northern part of the station, people can easily enter from all sides. In fact, many people trespass the road adjoining the goods train track on the station premises and some have even apparently encroached upon the sheds, east of the FCI godown.
Ever since the station opened after gauge conversion in April 2004, it has remained without security though number of trains has grown to 17 on different routes. Some trains are plying to and fro to major destinations including New Delhi, Kolkata (Howrah), Bhubaneswar, Mumbai, Bangalore, Tirupathi, besides daily trains to Chennai and Villupuram.
Security and policing on railway stations are shared by three different agencies, Government Railway Police (GRP), District Police and Railway Protection Force (RPF). It is the RPF and GRP, which share the bulk of the duties here. Unfortunately, there is no GRP in Puducherry to maintenance of law and order, which includes security of passengers and their baggage, control and prevention of all crimes on trains and railway premises and registration, investigation and prosecution of all such offences.
The RPF, which also takes care of railway properties, has a limited strength of 10 personnel placed under a Sub-Inspector. Since they work on shifts, at any given point of time there are hardly two or three RPF men on duty at the station.
Though there exists a metal detector at the entry and exit points, which are the same, there is no system of putting it into use and no one is checked. There are no CCTV cameras to cover the platforms and other areas in the station, though police have put up two CCTV cameras at the entrance and exit. Even checking platform tickets is meaningless as no one bothers to buy one.
The Puducherry unit of BJP on Saturday urged railway authorities to provide adequate security at the Railway Station.
In a memorandum forwarded to the Divisional Manager of Tiruchy Division of Southern Railways, a copy of which was submitted at Puducherry Railway Station on Saturday, BJP secretary R Swaminathan pointed out to ‘terrorist threat to all railway stations’ and urged the authorities to first build a compound wall and provide adequate security personnel in the station.
Being a tourist spot and because of its French legacy, Puducherry attracts many people from across the country as well as international tourists, therefore, there is need for extra caution.