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Since 1st March, 1999
 
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Twin steps for railway safety

Ranchi, Jan. 19: Walkie-talkie sets to ensure communication between police escorts and drivers and guards of trains and a special dog squad to sniff luggage on platforms to detect explosives and drugs. These are two of the several measures Government Railway Police (GRP) are adopting to ensure safety of trains.

A meeting on railway safety was informed today that the sniffer dogs would also help in investigating serious crimes like murder that has increased in and around the railway stations and even in trains. The government has approved the proposal for the dog squad and requisition has been made for 300 walkie-talkie sets.

At a meeting here today, both Railway Protection Force (RPF) and GRP officials agreed to classify the 150 passenger trains that pass through the state every day on the basis of threat perception and modify escort strengths accordingly. Important trains and those which move through “super sensitive zones” would henceforth have at least 20 security personnel and will be led by an officer.

Officials admitted the need for better coordination. GRP pointed out that when the Tatanagar-Kharagpur passenger train was hijacked last month in East Singhbhum, RPF reported the incident to their control room at Kharagpur but not the GRP unit at Tatanagar. There was consequently a delay in rushing reinforcement, added officials.

Both agencies also agreed to spend more time in collecting and sharing intelligence. Although extremist movement was reported from the area for several days before the hijacking, neither GRP nor RPF had a clue and hence the train was allowed to proceed with just two RPF jawans.

The RPF officials felt that the agency should not be entrusted with the task of collecting cash, proceeds of ticket sale at small railway stations. The two jawans escorting the passenger train last month were also collecting cash on the way, which was looted by the Maoists along with their firearms. The lure of ready cash, they felt, made such trains sure and soft targets.

Deputy inspector-general of police (railways) Vimal Kishore Sinha and the DIG of RPF (SER), S.K. Parhi, chaired the meeting called to ensure steps to enhance passenger safety. The superintendents of railway police (SRP) of Tatanagar and Dhanbad and RPF commandants from Adra, Asansol, Kharagpur and Howrah also attended the meeting. Both agencies resolved that SRPs and RPF commandants would henceforth be in regular touch and meet at least once in three months. The DIGs would meet once in six months.

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