In possibly the biggest exercise of its kind, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) unit of Western Railway has spoken to some 4,100-odd women in the late night and early morning local trains to bring about what the force calls a ‘rapport’ to make women’s commute in Mumbai safer.
Teams of RPF personnel, have been boarding women’s compartments in local trains between 11pm and 6am to find out their travel patterns and their views on the kind of security they want from government agencies. According to officials conducting the exercise, RPF teams in Churchgate boarded the ladies compartment in the southern end of the terminus, teams from Mumbai Central boarded the northern-end ladies coach and teams in Dadar got into the middle ladies compartment.
According to Rajendra Rupnawar, senior commandant, RPF, the exercise aims at learning women’s commuting pattern — people who travel at the same time, in the same coach of the same train for years.
The ultimate aim, said officials, would be to have a ‘two-way’ kind of a communication between the RPF personnel in the control room and women inside a train. “If we can build this rapport where some women share their numbers with us, we can get in touch with them during their commute. On the other hand, they too can get in touch with our personnel to report any untoward incident in the compartment,” said a senior RPF official.
The RPF unit of WR, with around 1,280 men and over 500 vacancies, is hard pressed to provide security to the 244 women’s coaches in WR’s fleet. According to officials, with issues like recruitment of new personnel and deployment of state government-provided home guards taking time due to various governmental modalities, this plan seems to be their best bet for the moment.