To weed out touts, the railways is working on a plan to link identity documents such as Aadhaar, PAN and Passport to login details of passengers on the ticket booking IRCTC website, Railway Protection Force (RPF) Director General Arun Kumar said on Friday. In a press briefing, he said earlier action against touts was based on human intelligence which had little or no impact on the ground. “We are trying to plug it. The future is that eventually we have to link login of ticketing with some identity card either PAN or Aadhaar or any other proof, the number of which the passenger can (use to) login so that we can end touting,” Kumar said. “This is our future plan. We have to create a network first. We have almost done our work with Aadhaar authorities and we are doing the same with other identity cards. The moment the system is in place we will start using it,” he said during the briefing on on the work done by the RPF over the last two years.
Kumar said that action against touts was started in October-November 2019, and against illegal softwares from December in the same year. Till May 2021, 14,257 touts have been arrested, he said and added that so far, tickets worth Rs 28.34 crore have been seized. The director general (DG) also said the Rail Suraksha app has been developed for passengers to register safety-related complaints with the Government Railway Police and the RPF while they are travelling.
“We are devising a surveillance and response mechanism for CCTV coverage to 6,049 stations and all passenger train coaches,” he said. Kumar said through the Covid pandemic, the RPF remained on the forefront by providing security to parked rolling stock, providing food to the needy, escorting all Shramik Special trains, handling 45 child births and about 34 medical emergencies in these special trains. He said that the RPF has formulated a special plan ‘reach out, secure and rehabilitate’ for protecting children orphaned by Covid. “The RPF has initiated a drive to identify children in distress at station or in trains or in nearby towns, villages or hospitals orphaned due to Covid. The staff is sensitised to provide special attention to these children impacted due to the spread of the pandemic. People in nearby areas and passengers visiting stations are sensitised regarding services and facilities available nearby for children in distress situations,” Kumar said. “One nodal RPF personnel for each child is responsible from the time the child is secured to the time of his or her rehabilitation,” he said.
Many incidents of RPF personnel risking their own lives while saving that of others at stations have been reported, the DG said. Nine Jeewan Raksha Medals and a Gallantry Medal were awarded to RPF personnel by the President since 2018 for saving lives, he said. Kumar also said that for the safety and security of women passengers, the RPF has increased its women personnel from three percent of the force to nine per cent, making it the central force having the highest share of women in its ranks.
“The ‘Meri Saheli’ initiative launched by the RPF from October 17, 2020, across zones has given focused attention to women travelling alone in long distance trains. A team of young women RPF personnel interact with them at the originating station, en-route till the terminating station,” he said. “Security of female passengers has been upgraded by the RPF by the formation of special lady squads like Bhairvi, Virangna and Shakti. Escorting of all ladies special trains in metro cities and local trains by the RPF is being ensured. Focused deployment during late night and early morning local trains. Gender sensitisation and passenger awareness programmes are carried out regularly,” Kumar said. Regular drives against offenders travelling in coaches for women is a regular exercise by RPF personnel, he said. The DG said that about 1,29,500 (from 2019 to May 2021) male passengers traveling in coaches for women were arrested under section 162 of the Railway Act and prosecuted by the RPF.
The RPF has played an important role in the rescue of children and child help desks manned by nominated NGOs are functional at 132 stations till 2020, he said. The DG said that 56,318 children have been rescued from 2017 up to May, and 976 children have been rescued from traffickers from 2018 up to May. On luggage recovery, he said 22,835 cases, from 2019 up to May 2021, of leftover luggage containing items valued Rs 37.13 crore have been restored to their rightful owners. He said around 37,275 genuine security related calls were received in the last two years (2019 and 2020) and redressed. The Railway Flood Relief Team (RFRT) has also been launched, the DG said.