Kochi: Women passengers in key trains running in the state need not fear for their lives hereafter. A strong contingent of women recruits of the Railway Protection Force will take care of their security in night trains and ladies coaches of popular trains soon.
So far, women passengers were a scared lot in the wake of several incidents of harassment, including the murder of Soumya in 2011, due to the absence of adequate women police personnel in important trains.
The scenario will change with the RPF readying to deploy the largest-ever women recruits to keep anti-social elements at bay. The women staff will constitute ten per cent of the total force with 10, 000 women having been selected across the country in a recent recruitment drive.
"Women candidates from Kerala form the largest group of recruits," said a senior RPF official.
Out of 400 successful personnel undergoing training at various centres in Southern Railway, 203 are Malayalis.
"Almost all the trainees at Tiruchi centre are Keralites and over 60 per cent of them are from Palakkad," the official said.
While their specific unit deployment is yet to be finalised, the Thiruvananthapuram division, which has nearly 75 vacancies, too will get a substantial number of personnel.
"We'll get adequate number of women staff to be deployed in popular trains," the official said.
Currently, certain night trains, including Rajya Rani Express and the Amrita Express have no RPF patrolling facility.
"The RPF, facing personnel shortage, could not provide security in the Rajya Rani Express. In the case of Amrita Express, RPF escort is available only in a small stretch of Thrissur-Kottayam section," sources said.The women's compartments in trains like Ernkulam-Shornur passenger, in which Soumya was harassed and murdered subsequently, will be under close watch.
The women recruits will also be deployed at stations and platforms and other areas as directed by the assistant divisional commander.
Passenger associations have asked the authorities to take immediate measures to address the issue.
''The revised timing of night trains has put the passengers in a lot of difficulty. RPF escort is required in the trains due to incidents such as Soumya murder case," said J.Liyons, secretary of 'Friends on Rails.'...