Mumbai Railway Police Experiment

It won't suffice to bring about a change in the working of the police force only in the North Region. It is also necessary to bring about a change in the working of the Government Railway Police as Western Railway passes through this region. I worked as Commissioner of Railway Police, Mumbai during 2004-07. Following is the information of the experiment I conducted during that tenure.

Railway Station Mohalla Committee

A Mohalla Committee has been set up at every railway station, on the lines of the Bhiwandi one and after incorporating the necessary changes.

There is no resident civic population within the limits of the railway police jurisdiction. But those people who stay and work on the railway station have information regarding the antisocial elements who commit crimes or regarding antisocial and terrorist activities in the area falling under railway jurisdiction. They have a desire to help the police in their other activities. But as the police have no interaction with the people at the railway station, they do not get this information about the criminals and or cannot avail of the cooperation of these people at the stations, in their other activities. Mohalla committees have been established at railway stations to make use of the knowledge and power of the people there.

`A railway station Mohalla Committee is a group of people selected by the police from the lay public to take the initiative in the protection of the railway station and the commuters.' There by ensure national growth.

The following points should be considered while establishing and running a railway station - obviously the philosophy, structure and ideas are similar to the Mohalla Committees described before :

  1. There should be an independent Mohalla committee for every railway station.
  2. Each Mohalla committee should be known by the name of the station to which it belongs. For example, the Mohalla committee at Dadar station should be called the Dadar railway Mohalla committee.
  3. All the people belonging to the station should be made members of the committee.
  4. Even those individuals who are engaged in temporary or seasonal work at the station, should be made members.
  5. All the coolies at the railway station, shoe polishers, sanitation workers, stall owners & employees, authorized hawkers, members of the commuters' organisation, members of the Woman Vigilance Committee, Station Superintendent, Assistants to the Station Superintendent, officers of the Railway Protection Force and all such others should be made members.
  6. The reason behind enlisting so many members is that only very few of them will exhibit qualities like commitment, maturity, all-round abilities, and problem-solving capacity. These few people may not have formal education but as they have the above-mentioned qualities, they conduct the work of the Mohalla committee with great vigour.
  7. Individuals who are infamous as having criminal tendencies or are short-tempered or quarrelsome by nature should not be included as committee members.
  8. All ladies working at the railway station should be made committee members.
  9. People belonging to any political party can become members of the Mohalla committee.
  10. An officer of the rank of Police Sub-Inspector should be the designated president of the committee. Officers of the rank of Asst. Police Sub-Inspector, Police Head onstable, Police Naik and Police Constable will assist him as vice-presidents.
  11. The Mohalla committee meeting can be presided over by any senior police, railway or RPF officer.
  12. If at the time of the meeting of the Mohalla committee, the designated president is absent and so are other senior officers, any vice-president can preside over the proceedings of the Mohalla committee.
  13. The Mohalla committee will conduct a meeting at least once a month.
  14. The meeting will be held on the railway platform or at any place convenient for the members.
  15. Identity cards should not be issued to the members.
  16. A police, railway or RPF officer will preside over each Mohalla committee meeting. Under no circumstances should a member of the committee be made the president; he may not have the approval of the entire committee and there is always the chance that he may use his position for his personal advantage.
  17. Petty misunderstandings between members of the railway station can be resolved in the Mohalla committee meeting.
  18. The designated president or vice-president should go to the place of work of those members who cannot attend the meeting and take their signatures. This strengthens the emotional bond between the members and the police and at the same time this member becomes a permanent police sympathiser.
  19. At the beginning the attendance at the Mohalla committee meetings is good but later it starts waning, that is the usual experience. But the police should not get disillusioned by this. Even if the attendance is poor, conducting regular meetings is advantageous in times of unrest.
  20. It is important for the president, vice-president and members to meet often other than for Mohalla committee meetings. It increases the faith of the members in the police and they come forward fearlessly to help the police regarding information about criminals, suspicious objects and in other police work.
  21. The Mohalla Committee president and vice-president should help the members to resolve any issues that they might have with other departments through the concerned department.
  22. Through the means of the Mohalla Committee a platform to voice views is created at every railway station. A team spirit is fostered among those working at the railway station and this results in the commuters getting excellent service and an enhanced feeling of security.

Railway Pravasi Mitra Scheme

Hundreds of innocent commuters were injured and killed in the gruesome bomb blasts that were engineered on the Western railway on July 11, 2006. Mumbaikars put up a brave front in the face of this tragedy and provided invaluable support and cooperation to the police and the administration. It would have been impossible for the police to deal with this tragedy without the support of the public. It is extremely essential for each one of us to remain very alert and cautious in order to prevent a repeat of these terrorist activities. The Railway Pravasi Mitra scheme is being implemented at the Mumbai Police Commissionerate to garner the participation and support of the people.

The aim of this scheme is to identify unclaimed/unattended objects and suspicious individuals with the help of the spontaneous participation and active support of the people in order to prevent subversive incidents.

Railway commuters regularly travelling between CST and Kasara, CST and Karjat, CST and Panvel, Thane and Manpada, and Churchgate and Bordi Road, can contribute to this scheme as `volunteers'.

The key feature of the "Railway Pravasi Mitra" scheme is that any regular railway commuter between the age of 18 and 60 years can serve as a `railway pravasi mitra'. As this scheme is an entirely voluntary scheme for the service of the society, the volunteer does not get any financial remuneration or any other advantage for the services rendered by him. The volunteer does not need to go to the police station. The volunteer is also not called upon as a witness in court proceedings. The volunteers are issued an identity card by the police force and they are expected to wear it in such a manner that it can be seen by the others. The volunteer should be a regular railway commuter. The volunteer should have a valid ticket or pass. The volunteer does not get a separate special seat while commuting by railway.

The Railway Pravasi Volunteer has the following duties:

  1. As far as possible, the volunteer should travel by a specific train and in a specific compartment.
  2. While commuting if they come across any unclaimed/unattended object/luggage in the compartment or on the platform, they should enquire about its owner.
  3. If they find such an unclaimed object in a compartment, they should immediately call the Control Room and nearby police station to inform them.
  4. If they come across a suspicious person in the compartment, they should inform the Control Room or the nearby railway police station.
  5. At peak hours it is difficult to get a place to sit if one boards the train at the starting station and many people go to the earlier station and catch a seat for themselves. If a suspicious person gets off at the starting station leaving his luggage behind, this information should be conveyed to the police immediately.
  6. The volunteer should get acquainted with other volunteers travelling on the same local train or in the same compartment. They should all cooperate with each other.
  7. If a volunteer has to convey any suggestions or information regarding the safety of railway commuters, they can do it over the phone or through a letter. But the volunteers should not check the luggage of any commuter nor should they ask any commuter for any papers related to their luggage. Similarly, they should not get into inconsequential arguments with fellow commuters, they should not convey false information to the police station, they should not spread rumours and so on. Volunteers should be enlisted from state government offices, mantralay, central government offices, banks, PSUs, corporate sector, LIC, journalists' organisation, electronic media, colleges, universities, jewelers' merchants associations, railway commuters' organisation and other institutes and organisations.