Despite stern action by the Railway Protection Force (RPF), the number of unauthorised persons travelling in coaches specially reserved for the handicapped on Mumbai suburban (Central and Western) railways has gone up by 18 per cent in 2013 as compared to 2012.
The figures provided by the RPF showed that in 2013, they have arrested 43,349 people for traveling in disabled coaches and had collected a total fine of Rs1.62 crore from the offenders. In 2012, the RPF had booked 36,798 people and the railway court had recovered a total fine of Rs91 lakh from them. This means, the RPF have arrested 6551 more offenders in the current year as compared to the previous year.
At the same time, the court sent 160 offenders to jail in 2013 for not paying the fine whereas in 2012, as many as 130 offenders were sent to jail.
Jeetendra Karelia, president of Advocacy Group of India, said, “To curb this menace, the Railway Board should increase the fine amount from Rs500 to Rs2000.” Karelia said that he had written to the Railway Board and both the general managers of CR and WR in June 2013 with a request to hike the fine amount.
Karelia also observed that many personnel of Mumbai police in mufti travel in coaches reserved for the disabled and bully those handicapped commuters, who object to their presence. The RPF must take stern action against these cops who illegally travel in coaches meant for handicapped commuters, he demanded.
The activist also said that often women, who are only one or two months pregnant, travel in the coaches for disabled with their husband or relative for their comfort. He said a pregnant womn must carry a certificate from a government hospital, showing that her she pregnancy is in the advance stage. The railway authority should check such certificates, he added.
Rajendra Rupnavar, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF, WR, said, “We have been conducting drives against unauthorised persons traveling in coaches reserved for the disabled.”
He added that their aim was to educate and create awareness among the physically fit commuters.