The Ministry of Railways has issued a detailed set of guidelines to prevent crimes against women, both on trains and railway station premises. The guidelines include an action plan, preventive measures, sensitisation, surveillance over the identified vulnerable area, notice for passengers and special measures.
As per the ministry, 20 percent of the 2.3 crore people who travel daily by Indian railways are women passengers. Thus, it is a “major concern” for them to put an end to heinous crimes against women.
"In the recent past, the incidents of crime against women in trains and railway premises has been a major area of concern. Therefore, the following steps are part of a focused effort across Indian Railways to collectively strive for safety of women passengers and to mitigate atrocities against women in railways,” said an official statement issued by the Ministry of Railways.
Proper lighting arrangements should be made, covering all vulnerable areas identified in railway stations, parking, approach roads, ends of platforms, and maintenance depots, among others, read the statement. The Ministry has also ordered for the demolition of abandoned structures, after consultation with the engineering department.
According to the statement, unauthorized entries and exits must be closed. Furthermore, yards, pits as well as the nearby railway area of stations must be kept clean of unwanted vegetation, which may provide cover for offenders to commit crimes.
“Waiting rooms should not remain unattended and persons should be allowed to enter the waiting rooms after proper entry, particularly in nights and at times when there is minimum presence of passengers,” the guidelines said. “It should be cross-checked by the duty officer at odd hours.”
The CCTV feeds must be monitored regularly, ordered the Ministry. “The position of women’s coaches should be fixed at the platform and CCTV camera to be especially installed on the platform at that point so as to provide adequate coverage of these coaches. A database on sexual offenders residing in an area should be maintained to keep surveillance on them,” the statement noted.
The Ministry also said that there should be no gatherings near toilets as most crimes have been reported there.
Furthermore, adequate steps will be taken to sensitise railway employees and contractual staff. “Staff engaged in checking of rolling stocks, porters, hawkers and vendors should be encouraged to report the incident without loss of time to police or the station master,” said the statement.
Zonal Railways officials have also been directed to use cultural troupes for nukkad nataks (street plays) to spread awareness about women safety, cleanliness and other things.
Since railways provides free internet connectivity to its passengers, it will be ensured with the help of various network providers that no porn sites are accessible through this service. Moreover, special drives are also being launched to apprehend and prosecute persons consuming alcohol in railway stations and trains.
The Indian Railways has also devised an action plan classified as short-term and long-term. As part of the short-term plan, the Ministry will intensify vigilance on suspects, and regular visits to vulnerable spots will be made by duty officers and staff during rounds.
The long-term plan includes improvement of existing basic infrastructure such as the CCTV system, light masts and more. According to the Ministry, this “may take a reasonable time, and should be chased with concerned authorities on a regular basis and till such time it is completed.”
(Edited by Amrita Ghosh)