In January this year, there have been seven cases of heinous crimes like dacoity, rape, and smuggling that involved men from Railway Protection Force (RPF). This has now triggered policing of their own staff where senior RPF staff have been asked to keep a watch on the junior cadre. This ranges from seeing if any of their staffs are affiliated with political parties, checking anecdotes of people they meet after work, if anyone has an extra martial affair, are they visiting sex workers or are loan sharks waiting to bite etc.
This is what top boss of RPF Arun Kumar has asked all their subordinates across Indian Railways to do and a circular has been shot on March 2 stating that these cases of heinous crimes are bringing disrepute to the force and proactive steps must be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents. Sources said that the Railway Board wants them to put a system in place to monitor the activities of their staff even when they are off-duty.
‘They must identify the staff that are habituated to vices such as alcoholism, drug abuse, regularly borrowing money, gambling, visiting prostitutes or are having extra marital affairs. Some staff might have fallen into debt traps due to reasons beyond their control. There are chances of marital disputes, custody battles or land disputes turning ugly. Sometimes domestic snowballs into crises forcing the RPF staff to commit crime,’ reads one of the points in the circular.
The Rail ministry also wants to do something about the corruption and have asked to make a list of staff in each Division and every Zone of Indian Railways; who are living beyond their known sources of income and the company they keep. ‘RPF staff may also get involved in political activity or could develop sharply defined political affiliations which may lead to involvement in crime. Staff should be actively counselled to keep away from political canvassing or overtly supporting or participating in political activity,’ stated another point in the circular.
“We have been advised to interact with the staff and find out if they are facing financial problems due to serious sickness of some family members, marriage in the family etc. as it may lead the staff to take illegal means to fulfil their financial requirements,” said a RPF officer.
Sources said that the railways have been asked to hold interactive sessions with experts on matters involving finance so that the staff becomes aware of the importance of savings and sound investment. In cases where there is family or land dispute in their home towns then coordination with local administration of his native place may be done through the local RPF officers to prevent their staff from committing heinous crimes. The letter states that the staff may be briefed regularly to avoid the lure of easy money and shortcuts to riches.