The Ministry of Railways has issued new guidelines to prevent crimes against women inside trains and on railway premises. The ministry said that crimes against women – who make up 20% of the 2.3 crore passengers travelling every day in the Indian Railways – has been a major concern.

In an order issued on March 20, the ministry listed out measures such as surveillance and sensitisation to prevent these incidents.

It said that proper lighting arrangements should be ensured at all vulnerable places such as the parking area, the ends of platforms, yards and washing lines. The ministry also said that abandoned structures should be demolished after consulting with the engineering department.

“Waiting rooms should not remain unattended and persons should be allowed to enter the waiting rooms after proper entry, particularly in nights and at times when there is minimum presence of passengers,” the guidelines said. “It should be cross-checked by the duty officer at odd hours.”

The ministry also asked officials to prevent the entry of unauthorised persons in yards where coaches are stationed. The coaches should be kept locked, it added.

“Unwanted /unauthorised persons in the railway premises should be rounded [up] and prosecuted and railway station, yards & trains should be kept free from unwanted unsocial elements,” it said, adding that investigations into the crimes against women should be followed up till their logical conclusion.

CCTV feeds must be monitored regularly, the ministry said, adding: “The position of women’s coaches should be fixed at the platform and CCTV camera to be especially installed on the platform at that point so as to provide adequate coverage of these coaches.” It added that a database on sexual offenders residing in an area should be maintained to keep surveillance on them.

The ministry also said that there should be no gatherings near toilets as most crimes have been reported there. “Usually, ladies coaches are near/with the train Guard in the tail end of trains which at many places remains outside the Platform area,” it said. “Escort parties and station RPF/ GRP [Railway Protection Force/Government Railway Police] staff should ensure that they are attended properly at the halting stations,” it said.

The ministry also called for sensitising railway employees and contractual staff. “Staff engaged in checking of rolling stocks, porters and hawkers/vendors should be encouraged to report the incident without loss of time to Police/ RPF or the station master,” it said. “Help of NGOs [non-governmental organisation] may also be obtained for this purpose.”

Zonal Railways officials were also directed to use cultural troupes for Nukkad Nataks (street plays) to spread awareness about women safety, cleanliness and other things.

“Railway personnel across all departments should be sensitised regarding their duty towards women and children through soft skill and gender sensitisation training in various training institutes,” the order said. “They should be trained to identify women in distress or children in need of care and protection and respond properly.”