Women can now look forward to safer train journeys while travelling alone, with the Waltair division of East Coast Railway (ECoR) deploying the Subhadra Vahini at the city railway station.
Subhadra Vahini is a first-of-its-kind all-female group of 32 railway personnel comprising 16 from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and an equal number from the commercial wing of the division.
The group was formed in response to safety-related complaints from women passengers, particularly during the peak season like summer holidays and festivals when passenger rush is at the heaviest.
The group also has a footprint on social media, where passengers can lodge complaints. It has a Facebook page at https://subhadravahiniteamwaltair, while the WhatsApp number is 8978080777. Its Twitter account is subhadravahini1 and passengers can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, apart from the 182 helpline number.
Waltair divisional railway manager MS Mathur said the group will work actively to prevent crimes. “The motto of the Subhadra Vahini group is to boost security for women passengers and preventing crimes on both platforms and on trains. The group members will keep an eye out for miscreants and will promptly attend to the grievances of passengers,” Mathur said.
“Some women passengers hesitate to inform male security personnel about their problems. In such cases, the Vahini team will act promptly by interacting with them and will address their grievances on the spot. It is for the first time that women ticket checking staff are also deployed to handle penalties or commercial issues if any,” Mathur added.
Speaking to TOI, Jitendra Srivastava, senior divisional security commissioner, said they generally receive complaints regarding eve-teasing and other complaints against women safety through the 182 helpline number and social medial platforms like Twitter.
Their department received two eve-teasing cases from Chennai-Vizag and Vijayawada-Vizag trains from January to May this year apart from 10-12 cases monthly regarding the occupancy of seats reserved for women, Srivastava added.
“With the introduction of the Vahini group, security of women has been strengthened as commercial wing staff like ticket checking staff will also join us to prevent the crimes on trains and at platforms,” Srivastava added.
He added that a unique dress code was provided to Subhadra Vahini so that they can be recognised easily for help.
The railway division officials appeal to women passengers to use the 24-hour toll-free helpline 182 for security-related needs while on railway station premises or trains. Pamphlets on safety tips and the toll-free number were also distributed among the commuters.