Platform No. 4 of Ranchi station where para-teacher Prem Chand was shot dead on Friday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Friday’s pre-dawn gunning down of a passenger on Ranchi junction, platform No. 4, has trained the spotlight on railway security across major stations of the state — capital, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad.
Across these three important revenue-earning junctions, Ranchi comes a poor third, while Dhanbad and Jamshedpur perform better despite limitations.
Ranchi is one of the busiest junctions under South Eastern Railway (SER) but is full of glaring security lapses.
In the Friday murder, whether the three men — one gunman and two accomplices — were following Jasidih para-teacher Prem Chand alias Phool Kumar from his hometown via the same Ranchi-bound Dumka Intercity Express or whether they were waiting for him in Ranchi is yet to be known.
But a man with a gun on him can easily enter Ranchi station, any day.
Of the three door-framed metal detectors at the station, one is defunct for the past two months and the other two don’t function intermittently. Though a couple of GRP personnel are deployed at the station’s main entrance, they seldom frisk anyone or check any luggage.
Recently, a luggage scanner has been installed at the main building, but there is too much of a crowd rush and too few personnel for it to be effective.
The station has no boundary wall and hence the concept of monitored entry goes for a toss. The much-hyped electronic surveillance with 24 CCTV and dome cameras are “in the process of being installed”. Thirty-five GRP personnel are allotted, but they do their beat “on rotation basis”.
Security personnel are clearly a harried lot. “We have installed a luggage scanner recently, but manual frisking is not always done and it is an impossible task as thousands of passengers troop in every hour. Many arrive at the last moment to catch their train. We don’t have the luxury of airports where you must report hours in advance for security checks,” chief security commissioner of Railway Protection Force A.K. Das said.
“Installing CCTV cameras is first step of overall station security planning,” chipped in ADRM Ramasish Yadav.
However, everyone knows the score.
“You can easily carry any weapon because there is no one to stop you,” said regular passenger between Ranchi and Bokaro, Manish Kumar Choudhary.
“There is zero security on station premises,” said Prem Mittal, Jharkhand Yatri Sangh president.
Dhanbad junction, one of the top revenue earners for East Central Railway (ECR), seems to have basics in place. Senior commandant of ECR division in Dhanbad, Hiramani Tiwari said: “Over 20 security personnel in uniform and plainclothes are deployed on station.”
“We conduct regular checks at platforms and on trains originating from or passing through Dhanbad. RPF and GRP work in tandem,” he claimed.
Rail superintendent of police, Dhanbad, P.K. Karn said over 60 policemen were deputed in Daltonganj section, 40 in Jasidih and 30 in Sahebganj-Pakur.
In Jamshedpur’s Tatanagar station, GRP, RPF and Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) together look after passenger security. Plus, authorities have proactively repaired the metal detector after the Patna blasts last October.
Elaborating on the security arrangements, Tatanagar RPF inspector D. Sharma said the entrance to station premises on platform No.1 is fitted with a metal detector.
“Though installed two years ago, the metal detector at the entrance to platform No. 1 was defunct. After recent serial blasts in Patna, we got it repaired and re-installed,” said Sharma.
At present, 48 CCTV cameras are being installed on platforms and railway station premises.
“Of the 48, 37 CCTV cameras have already been installed, but the control room for the surveillance is under construction,” Sharma said.
GRP inspector Ram Chandra Ram said railway police also remain active in patrolling the station premises and railway yards.
“We nabbed a youth with a loaded pistol from the railway yard based on an intelligence input a fortnight back,” he added.
Do you agree with this security assessment of the stations? Tell firstname.lastname@example.org