Apart from passengers’ safety and security, Railway Protection Force (RPF) has contributed in a big way during Covid-19 in Indian Railways efforts to sustain its fight against the virus. During the pandemic, RPF has remained at the forefront of Indian Railway’s efforts like the security of parked rolling stock, providing food to the needy, escorting all Shramik Special trains, handling 45 deliveries, and about 34 medical emergencies in Shramik Specials.
RPF has also formulated a special plan named ‘Reach out, secure and rehabilitate’ for the protection of Covid orphans. RPF has initiated a drive to identify children in distress at stations or in trains or in nearby towns, villages, and hospitals.
People near the surrounding areas and passengers visiting stations are sensitized regarding the services and facilities available for the children who are in distress situations. One nodal RPF personnel will be responsible and accountable from the time the child is secured till the time of rehabilitation.
Many incidents were reported where RPF personnel risked their own lives while saving the precious lives at stations. Since 2018, nine Jeewan Raksha Medals and 01 Gallantry Medal awarded to RPF personnel by the President of India for saving lives.
The induction of females in large numbers in RPF gave impetus to Indian Railway’s efforts to improve women’s security. Recruitment of 10,568 vacancies in RPF was completed in 2019. After CBT, PET/PMT, document verification, medical examination, and police verification, recruitment was concluded. The percentage of women in RPF prior to recruitment was 3% (2,312), post recruitment, it is 9% (6,242). RPF is the central force having the highest share of women in its ranks.
Meri Saheli initiative
The Meri Saheli initiative was launched by RPF in 2020 across zones that gave attention to women travelling alone in long-distance trains. A team of young lady RPF personnel interacts with them at originating station, en-route to the terminating station.
The security of female passengers has been upgraded by 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 RPF is being ensured. Gender sensitization and passenger awareness programmes are carried out on a continuous basis. Regular drives against offenders travelling in ladies’ coaches are conducted by RPF personnel. About 1,29,500 (from 2019 to 2021 up to May) male passengers traveling in ladies coaches were arrested under section 162 of the Railway Act and prosecuted by RPF.
RPF has played a crucial role in rescuing children. Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is finalized in consultation with the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD). Total 56,318 children have been rescued from 2017 up to May 2021. Total 976 Children rescued from traffickers, from 2018 up to May 2021.
Passengers continue to receive assistance from RPF in order to make their travel more safe and comfortable. RPF is involved in a number of critical areas, including grievance redress, luggage recovery, and security-related calls. Total 22,835 cases (from 2019 up to May 2021) of leftover luggage containing items valued at Rs 37.13 Crores restored to rightful owners. Total 37.275 genuine security-related calls in the last two years (2019-20) received on All India Railway Security Helpline 182 and redressed.
Railway Flood Relief Team (RFRT)
An RPF disaster relief initiative has been launched for reaching out and providing relief to passengers stranded in trains due to floods. The team can provide water, food, and medicines, etc. It operates in close coordination with other rescue and relief agencies and on a well-laid out SOP. NDRF has trained 15 RPF men and women and 75 more are being trained. Five motorized inflatable boats with safety equipment were procured and stationed at five vulnerable locations. It can team up with the Civil Administration for such operations outside Railway also.