By Barathi V
The broad daylight murder of 26-year-old Infosys employee Swathi has left Chennai shaken. But what has shocked the entire State is the sheer negligence on the part of the government machinery. One wonders how an important railway station located in the heart of the city has no police patrolling or surveillance.
Southern Railway's promise to install CCTV cameras and of active policing in all suburban railway stations was made way back in 2009, when the 'mysterious' local EMU train hijack incident that claimed 4 lives happened. Till today, the train hijacking case remains a mystery but the promises are yet to be fulfilled.
A similar promise was made by the Southern Railways immediately after the 2014 Chennai blast that claimed the life of a Bengaluru-based IT employee and the authorities have miserably failed in providing what can be considered a basic requirement.
The Friday horror at the Nungambakkam railway station has once again exposed the authorities, who seem to have mastered the 'art of reacting' only at the time of crisis. Many suburban railway stations in the city have no CCTV cameras. More than 14 lakh people use suburban trains on a daily basis.
Out of 18 suburban railway stations, only five stations have CCTV cameras. Major stations like Central, Egmore & Tambaram are under CCTV cover. But according to police sources, anti-social elements operate out of stations that are not under CCTV surveillance.
If the condition of the suburban railway stations is bad in terms of security, the MRTS railway stations are worse. A mere visit to the 17 MRTS stations in the city would reveal an alarming picture.
MRTS rail link that connects Chennai's IT corridor with the rest of the city is in a perpetual state of neglect. Vacant spaces, poorly lit corridors, lack of police presence and movement of miscreants makes these stations notorious for women.
Talk to any woman techie along Chennaiās IT corridor, their answer would be 'we avoid travelling in MRTS trains because we feel unsafe'. Assembling of unidentified groups, using MRTS railway stations as their private bar is common practice and harassment of women is a daily occurrence.
The railway authorities and the police are aware of the ground realities but they hide behind their constant excuse of 'We are short staffed'. The truth is lack of coordination between the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police which comes under the Tamil Nadu government.
It's high time that the Southern Railways wakes up from its slumber and provides adequate security and surveillance at all its stations so that the common man can feel safe.