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Don't Tweet, call 182: RPF

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Tweeting a video of a stunt on a moving train can direct officials to take action, but doesn't help them nab defaulters in real time. Jagruti Verma explains how calling 182 is a better option

A person sliding their leg along the platform while hanging from a moving train is a sight that shrieks of many Railway Act violations. Such people, when caught, can be fined as well as imprisoned, if they are adults. In case of teenagers, the defaulters are counselled by the Railway Protection Force (RPF). However, nabbing them is a tough task for constables and the tweets don't help. According to RPF, the best way to inform them if you see such a person, is to call the 182 helpline.

“Generally people tweet to the Railway Ministry, and the matter is then forwarded to the Zonal and Divisional handles and eventually trickles down to RPF and the closest possible personnel,” said a senior RPF official, adding that the process can take almost half an hour. This leads to a lot of time wastage as the train continues to move ahead. One of the major issues is that of the video or picture being uploaded retrospectively by a user.

Another issue faced by the RPF is a staff crunch, because of which it is not physically possible for the personnel to be present at all platforms. “If a call is made to 182, the line of action will be faster,” said an official. To call is a better option because the official at the control room can extract better, specific information from the caller and immediately pass on the information to the nearest possible post and/or personnel. The issue with Twitter is that often, enough information is not mentioned.

The area under the Mankhurd post of RPF, including Govandi and Chembur stations is known for being the most notorious when it comes to stunts. “Almost every day, two to three such cases are detected,” said S.K. Verma, Inspector in-charge, RPF, Mankhurd. In almost 75 per cent of such cases, the defaulters are found to be underage, he added. The area under the Mankhurd post extends from Chembur to Sanpada stations on the Harbour Line.

Although such cases have reduced on the section, they are still a menace. On many occasions, the RPF personnel go and talk to the religious and political heads as well as people living in the area to communicate the dangers of doing stunts on a moving train, among other issues. These sessions focus on children and teenagers. However, one of the issues on the section is that the underage defaulters often belong to really poor families.

“Even when we call their parents and counsel them about the dangers, the issue is that most of them come from such poor families that it is not as effective because their lives are all about surviving each day as one,” said Verma. In such cases, the parents often can't afford to pay proper attention to the whereabouts of their kids due to their hand-to-mouth existence. Often, these stunts are a way to release the cumulated life-related stress for the defaulting teens.

Officials feel that complaining about such cases on Twitter doesn't help them in real time. However, even physical presence of officials in railway premises brings in a set of troubles. “Even if an RPF personnel is present in the vicinity and witnesses such an action, they cannot chase the person performing the stunt,” said Sachin Bhalode, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, Mumbai Division, Central Railway.

People tend to panic spotting a khaki-wearing official around them in such a situation and tend to run for their lives. Such moments are critical as it can result in a mishap, he explained. Handling such a situation in a sensitive way is a task for constables at the spot. They have to be stern but not too overwhelming, especially when they are dealing with underage defaulters. However, the bottom line remains that the quicker they know, they faster they can act and control the situation.

The Railway Act
Section 156 (Footboard travel): Any passenger caught travelling on the roof, step, footboard of a coach or the engine or any other part not intended for travelling in a train shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with a fine that may extend to five hundred rupees, or both.

Section 145 (Nuisance): Any person who commits nuisance or affects the comfortable travel of any passenger is punishable with imprisonment which may extend to six months and with a fine which may extend to five hundred rupees.

Section 147 (Trespassing): Any person who enters in the railway premises without lawful authority may be punished with imprisonment which may extend to six months or with a fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or both.

Controlling mayhem
In 2016, a focussed drive was conducted with 25 officials deployed at stations like Mankhurd, Tilak Nagar, Chembur, Kurla and Govandi. These officials used to click pictures of people travelling on rooftops and share them on a WhatsApp group. The personnel at the next possible station used to identify and nab the defaulter as they got off the train. In the two months before the staff crunch caught up with the force, 226 miscreants were identified and apprehended.

Before you tweet
A few things you should keep in mind while tweeting a security related issue on a moving train:

  • Call 182 instead if the danger is immediate and eminent
  • Give specific information regarding the incident
  • Describe the incident in full, don't leave out details

Stunts in Numbers
Cases detected on CR in 2017    133
Number of persons jailed in 2017    6
Fine collected in 2017    Rs 60,550
Cases detected on CR in 2018 (up to August)    68
Number of persons jailed in 2018 (up to August)    0
Fine collected in 2018 (up to August)    Rs 34,000

“Stunts are a problem but to apprehend people performing stunts requires a well organised drive with a lot of personnel. It will be done if things get out of control and the number of such cases increase”
— Sachin Bhalode, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, Mumbai Division, Central Railway.

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