After a two-year hiatus, the number of cases of molestation on trains has increased in Mumbai.

MUMBAI: After a decline in the past two years, offences of molestation on Mumbai Railways have started picking up. Sixtytwo cases were registered between January and September 2022, which is nearly equal to the cases in the previous two years put together.Forty-three cases of molestation were registered in January-September 2020 and 24 cases were reported in the s ame period in 2021, when services as well as travel categories were restricted due to the Covid pandemic.Greater awareness among women about their rights and offences being recorded correctly by the police could be some of the reasons why the cases are picking up, experts said.The figures are still not as high as pre-pandemic times though, as many people continue to work from home. Over a 100 cases of molestation were registered between January and September 2019. On Central Railway, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) has moved their women personnel from desk jobs onto platforms and trains for visible policing. “Women personnel are escorting 39 passenger trains jointly with their male counterparts in Mumbai. We also have a campaign ca lled ‘Meri Saheli’ where female RPF staffattend to 200 passengers in 28 trains,” said Rishi Shukla, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF (CR).Government Railway Police (GRP) which has solved about 94% of molestation cases reported in January-September this year has also tweaked patrolling patterns.“Our personnel have been instructed not to sit on benches idly but to stand guard on platforms outside ladies coaches,” said GRP commissioner Quaiser Khalid. To ensure personnel don’t get complacent, the commissioner has put in place rotatio nal duties, which means that a cop would have to move to another railway station for patrolling every few hours and will be replaced by a counterpart. “Whenever an incident occurs, new squads are announced but they stop functioning as time passes. Rules must be institutionalized. More visible policing and in uniform will certainly bring down crime rates,” said Nandita Gandhi of women’s resource cent re, Akshara. She added that women’s awareness levels had also increased, which could be one of the causes for the rise in reporting crimes.Earlier this year, a lawyer tweeted about the insensitivity of Andheri GRP personnel when she went to report a case of molestation. Khalid organized a session of behavior training for the staff in response to her remarks and plans to hold additional sessions in the future.

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