Despite two confirmed incidents of women being harassed on the Metro recently, the question of security for female commuters remains far from solved and has instead turned into political football between the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) officials and the City police.
In both recorded incidents, the victims allege that the on-duty Metro staff were of no help, to which Metro officials claimed that their guards are supposed to be at their designated places and cannot budge.
BMRCL officials also pointed out their long-standing policy that law and order in Metro stations and trains are the responsibility of the City police.
Police officials, however, retorted that they cannot be held accountable for such incidents as their men are not permitted to go beyond the ticketing area on any Metro station.
“In this situation, how can we do anything to ensure the safety of women on platforms or on the trains?” a police official, who did not wish to be named, asked.
Although police have launched a manhunt for the culprits following the second incident of harassment on October 12, investigating officers admitted that it has been difficult to identify the men by merely looking at their faces on CCTV cameras.
While there is a proposal to hand over security of Metro stations to the Karnataka Industrial Security Force (KISF), along the lines of the Delhi Metro where the Central Industrial Security Force is responsible for law and order, BMRCL officials said that it will still be some time before the KISF can assume security as the Bangalore Metro is still in its infancy.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, however, P S Kharola, the Managing Director of the BMRCL, said that, “The Metro is the first responder in the event of any eventuality.”
Kharola also admitted that further training is required for the BMRCL employees, to help sensitise them to adequately respond to and help in case of any untoward incidents.
At the present time, a private security firm is responsible for the safety of passengers on platforms.
In the first incident, which occurred two months ago, a woman was harassed by a group of men at the MG Road Station while waiting for a train.
When she called on a guard nearby for help, he refused. Later, the same group of men followed her into the train, and continued their harassment.
The woman finally called Baiyapanahalli Police station. Officers from the station detained the men for the night.
In the second incident, a woman was repeatedly harassed by a group of men while on a train.
Later, she was allegedly threatened by the same men in front of the Metro staff.
Despite this, Metro staff failed to summon police, forcing the victim to call the police on her own.
Many women who commute on the Metro are outraged by the incidents. “As of now, the Bangalore Metro operates along a mere six-kilometre stretch of track and already such incidents are happening,” said Sitha, a mother of two daughters who took her kids for a Metro ride on Sunday evening.
“If the officials do not take the issue of women’s safety seriously, it can get worse after many of the other stretches are opened.”