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Kerala HC: Ensure safety of women on trains

  • The Kerala High Court on Friday said that Railway Protection Force should ensure better security to women passengers. The Division Bench, headed by Acting Chief Justice Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, added that bogies for women should be fixed in the middle of the train.
    The court was disposing of a public interest petition and a contempt petition.

     Mr Rajesh A. Nair of Thrissur, in his petition pointed out that though the High Court had directed Railways to take steps, including shifting of the women’s compartment to the middle of the train, nothing had been done. Railways had ignored the directive to deploy two women police officers and one male police officer on trains at night. As a result, the harassment of woman passengers on trains continued. He said that when a woman was attacked on the Guruvayur train, there was no police in the compartment.

    The Railway department submitted that putting women’s compartment in the middle of the train was not easy since male passengers and pantry staff would have to walk through them, disturbing the women’s privacy. The court said the issue had to be looked into by Railways’ experts.

    Railways, in its affidavit, said that it had taken measures to ensure safety of women passengers. The women’s compartment in passenger train had at least one RPF staff during night. Three RPF women sub- inspectors and 46 RPF women head constables had been exclusively deployed for the safety of women passengers. The Government Railway Police (police of the State concerned) was also deploying women constables in the women’s compartment.

    RPF sub-inspectors and women constables were regularly deployed at stations. Passengers may call an all-India security helpline number 182, functioning in all divisional security control rooms, for security-related assistance. RPF regularly conduct drives, dissuading men from attempting to travel in women’s compartment.
     

    OUR TAKE

    Although various measures are present to make trains a safe place to travel, yet the sad picture is that women are still experiencing harassment and insecurities. It is not because of lack of security provisions but their implementation. The railways contention that placing the women’s compartment in the middle of the train is not easy since it will disturb their privacy, does not hold much grain. Ladies compartment at the rear end of the train will create more nuisance as it is easy for any miscreant to enter or escape from the coach after committing a crime. Railway must ensure there is no shortage of RPF staff on the train and any absenteeism on their part should be dealt sternly and immediate alternative should be deployed immediately. 


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