| The women helpline centre at Patna Junction. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Two months after the railways introduced the services of a women’s helpline number and a complaint centre at Patna Junction, passengers feel the station premises is a lot safer.
In January, the railways started a helpline — 9431025201 — and a complaint centre for women availing the railways service. Special teams comprising female security personnel have been deputed round-the-clock to take care of the complaints.
“It is a good initiative by the railway police. Earlier, except the Government Railway Police (GRP) station, there was no other place to lodge a complaint. We felt very uncomfortable narrating our problems to the policemen. However, the new women’s helpline number and the centre have made train travel safer and comfortable,” said Madhu Kumari, before boarding the Sanghmitra Express on Sunday.
The resident of Kankarbagh added: “More such initiatives should be taken up by the railway police for the safety of women passengers. Hopefully in the coming days, the railways would be more secured.”
Elaborating on the helpline, Patna GRP station house officer Ram Pukar Singh said: “Immediate action is being taken once a woman passenger calls on the helpline number. In response to the call, we immediately contact the nearest GRP police station and inform them about the incident. All such cases are being monitored by additional director-general of police (rail) P.N. Roy.”
Way before railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal announced the 2013-14 budget, the Patna division of the railway police, had taken several steps to ensure safer rides for women passengers. During the railway budget this year, Bansal had said railway passengers deserve “safe and comfortable journey”.
SHO Singh said apart from the two new services, the police have also initiated awareness campaigns and have organised nukkad nataks (street plays) based on women’s safety on the station premises. The Patna GRP has asked volunteers of Red Cross Society to help in their initiative.
“The railway police have taken all steps as far as security of women is concerned on the premises of the railway station or on running trains,” he added.
On the kind of steps the railways have taken regarding security of the women passengers, Singh added: “We have two teams of GRP and Railway Protection Force (RPF). Each team has two women and two men. They are responsible for escorting special trains like Brahmaputra Mail, Lokmanya Tilak Express, Guwahati Express and a few others.”
Singh added that there have been instances where women have complained of co-passengers harassing them under the influence of liquor.
In the past one year, the Patna GRP has come across 300 such cases. They have also taken action against the people responsible for such misbehaviour. However, the GRP did not disclose the names of the women passengers who were harassed.