Rail crimes: Govt proposes online registration of FIRs

Rail crimes: Govt proposes online registration of FIRs

With jurisdictional issues hampering efforts to deal with railway crimes, government today proposed online registration of FIRs and changes in law to ensure "seamless security" of the national transporter which is a "soft target" of Maoists and terrorists.

To enhance security on trains, the Railways also decided to allocate two berths on each side of the coaches to ex-army personnel.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while addressing a function here, noted that there are "complexities" involved in the railway security system which need to be looked into.

He did not elaborate but was apparently referring to jurisdictional aspects because of which railway crimes cannot be dealt with properly.

"Law and order is primarily the (individual) states' responsibility. Complaints can be registered online and they can be referred to the state concerned for investigations to be expedited," he said at a conference on railway security.

Noting that there are issues which stand in the way of providing "seamless security" to passengers, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu strongly favoured changes in the law to ensure better policing of railway premises although such a move is being opposed by the states.

Referring to the involvement of multiple agencies, he said there is a need for achieving "seamless security" as Government Reserve Police (GRP), Railway Protection Force (RPF) and state police are involved in protection of the railway premises.

GRP is under the control of state governments while RPF is under the Ministry of Railways.
"I have written to all the chief ministers to take up the issue for providing seamless security. We have to address the issue," Prabhu said. "GRP, RPF and state police are three different organisations. While state police will remain with the states, at least GRP and RPF, with the amendment of the law, can be made to ensure seamless policing," the Railway Minister said.

The proposed amendment to the RPF Act, 1957, aims to empower the force to lodge FIRs for crimes committed at railway stations and on trains.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) is the security wing of the public transporter while Government Railway Police (GRP) is under respective state governments. RPF is empowered to protect railway property whereas GRP is responsible for maintaining law and order on rail premises.

There are complaints of non-cooperation from GRP and lack of coordination between RPF, GRP and state police when it comes to securing railway property.

Rajnath Singh claimed that "there is no turf war between RPF and GRP. (But) some complexities are there which need to be looked into it".

Admitting that railways was becoming a soft target for Maoists, he said, "We have to ensure security for all modes of transportation. A strategy should be worked out to provide security to all forms of transportation."

Noting that "India has a federal structure and there are some complexities", the Home Minister said, "but there is (also) a solution to it. There is a solution to every problem, why can't there be a solution for this?"

Meanwhile, the Railways decided to utilise the services of ex-army personnel who will be given preference in reservation of two berths on each side of all coaches as part of effort to deal with crimes on trains.

"We are making certain modification in the software to reserve four seats - two in each side of the entry - in a coach for ex-army personnel," said a senior Railway Ministry official. The new system is expected to be operational next month.

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu while addressing the conference on railway security also said there is a plan to utilise ex-armymen. He, however, did not elaborate the plan.
The Railways is currently plagued with increased crime particularly involving women passengers.
Currently RPF personnel are deployed in 1300 trains and GRP is deputed in 2200 trains.
According to the plan, RPF will be manning about 5000 trains with recruitment and training process of 16,500 personnel nearing completion. 

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