Brief History of Force
Evolution of Railways in India
The first railway on the Indian Subcontinent ran over a stretch of 21 miles from Bombay to Thane. The idea of a railway to connect Bombay with Thane ; and Kalyan with the Thal and Bhore Ghats inclines, first occurred to Mr. George Clark, the Chief Engineer of the Bombay Government, during a visit to Bhandup in 1843. The formal inauguration ceremony was performed on the 16th of April, 1853, when fourteen railway carriages carrying about 400 guests and passengers left Bori Bunder at 3.30 pm “amidst the loud applause of a vast multitude and to the salute of 21 guns.” The first passenger train steamed out of Howrah station destined for Hooghly, a distance of 24 miles, on the 15th of August, 1854. Thus, the first section of the East Indian Railway was opened to public traffic, inaugurating the beginning of railway transport on the Eastern side of the Subcontinent. In the South, the first line was opened on the 1st of July, 1856 by the Madras Railway Company. It ran between Vyasarpadi Jeeva Nilayam (Veyasarpandy) and Walajah Road (Acrot), a distance of 63 miles. In the North, a length of 119 miles of line was laid from Allahabad to Kanpur on 3rd March, 1859. The first section from Hathras Road to Mathura Cantonment was opened to traffic on 19th October, 1875. These were the small beginnings, which in due course developed into a network of railway lines all over the country. By the 1880s, the Indian Railway system had a route mileage of about 9000 miles ie 14500 km. Thereafter, there was no looking back. Now, the Indian Railways is the premier transport organization of the country and the largest rail network in Asia, and the World’s second largest under one management.
Evolution of the Railway Protection Force
The efforts towards the control of crime on the Railways are almost as old as the history of the Railways itself. The Railway Police replaced a part of the Watch and Ward set-up of the Private Railway Companies in 1881, following the enactment of the Police Act in 1861. However, in the mid-forties, the portion of the Watch and Ward staff which remained under the control of these Railways, was found inadequate to control thefts of their assets and consignments. A Committee under the then Director, Intelligence Bureau, set up in 1954, recommended the reorganization of the Watch and Ward into a statutory body.
The High Power Committee on Railway Security while examining the issue commented under para 1.1 as follows: “Security problems of the Railway passengers, especially those relating to the security of his person and property during his rail journey, are really serious. His problems start the moment he decides to travel by rail and continue till he has reached his destination. Throughout the journey, he is concerned about his own security as well as the security of his belongings. On top of this, the fear of terrorist activity in the form of blowing up of tracks and trains is always at the back of his mind giving him a sleepless journey. Unscheduled stoppages and delays due to law and order problems such as demonstrations, dharnas enroute, compound his miseries. Any plan relating to Railway security, has, therefore, to give overriding priority to these security problems of the passengers, notwithstanding the fact as to which agency is responsible for doing this job.”
This led to the enactment of the RPF Act, 1957.
The post-independence era saw large-scale changes in the railway system. The private railways were reorganized into nine zonal railways. The overall pattern of train operation underwent phenomenal changes. Acknowledging the need for a better system of security and policing on the Railways, the Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act was passed in 1966. The RPF Act, 1957 was amended in the year 1985, making RPF an Armed Force and bringing about a radical change in the functioning of the Force. The passage of the Act gave the RPF exposure to the other forces. It gained in maturity as it was regularly being deployed for assisting the State Police Forces. The Force has managed to hold its place along with the best of combatant forces ever since its emergence as a Central Police Organization.
In 2003, the Government amended the RPF Act and Railways Act, and entrusted the responsibility of the security of passengers and passenger areas along with power to inquire and prosecute under the Railways Act. Following these new enactments, the RPF partially took-up the duties of escorting of passenger trains and access-control at the railway stations. These amendments have brought about a sea change in the character of duties performed by the RPF. Over the years, while the role of the RPF has diversified, the primary role of maintaining law and order remained the liability of the State Government. Hence, the system as it developed, led to a division of responsibilities between the State Police and the RPF.
To protect and provide a hitch-free movement of traffic over this vast network of railway in the country, the Railway Protection Force has been entrusted with the onerous responsibility of providing security to this lifeline of the Nation. The Government of India is today spending over Rs. 5300 Crores in maintaining a body of men numbering over 74,000, who constitute the Railway Protection Force. The Force is distributed over the entire length and breadth of the country; and is faced with an ever increasing variety of problems. Such a sizable Force can, if properly organized, supervised, and administrated towards a rationalized functioning, be an invaluable asset to the nation.
The Railways today own over 6,800 railway stations, run over 7,000 passengers trains, and more than 4,000 goods trains, daily, throughout the country. Besides, the Railways carry approximately 22 million passengers and over 3 million metric tons of freight everyday over more than 63,000 kilometers of railway network. Because of their sheer enormity and operational requirements, both the railway assets and goods entrusted to it are vulnerable to depredations. The railway installations and its rolling stock are also easy targets of agitators and mob-frenzy. Besides, deterioration of law and order in any part of the country also directly affects the security on the railways. The Railway Protection Force guards this vital artery of the economy of the Nation, and very successfully so. This Force has stood the test of time and proves its mettle and worthiness, 24x7, all the 365 days of the year.
A comparative study of Crime on the Railways, shows that 56% of the cases relate to Theft of Luggage, 4% consists of Murder, Robbery and Dacoity and 40% consists of Other Offences. In the existing system, the passenger faces a dilemma. With a multiplicity of security agencies operating on the Railway i.e. the Railway Protection Force (RPF), the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the District Police, he is confused and not sure whom to report to in case of a crime on the railway. For an ordinary passenger every man in “Khakhi” on the platform is a Policeman. The minimum that a passenger expects is a-
(i) Peaceful, Hassle-free and Comfortable Journey
(ii) Security of Self and Baggage
(iii) Punctuality of Timing, and
(iv) Safe Delivery of Consignments Booked.
There are serious anomalies in the prevalent system. As the Government Railway Police (GRP) is organized on provincial lines, there is no continuity of jurisdiction. For instance, for a distance of 70 kilometers involving travel time of about an hour, between Ambala to Kalka, four GRP units look after a passenger. A seamless line of control and a single chain of command is lacking because of the boundaries of States and therefore, of their Police Forces.
Every effort has been taken, over the year, to improve the professional standards in RPF. We continuously strive to improve our standard of excellence and service delivery to ensure seamless security to Railway Passengers and secure railway property and passenger areas to live up to our motto of “Yasho Labhasva”