If you thought the Indian Railways was getting more unsafe for women, you are not off the mark.
Numbers relating to the number of registered sex crimes committed against women in Indian Railways have shown a sharp increase in the last three years — a period when mostly Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Bannerjee and her nominee Dinesh Trivedi have been in charge of the ministry.
The highest number of sex crimes against women — rape, molestation and misbehavior on trains and stations — has been registered on the Southern Railway division (Tamil Nadu and Kerala) of Indian Railways. There were 153 arrests in this divisions during the three years 2010 to 2012 (plus January 2013).
Part of the reason for the high number of registered crimes in the Southern Railway may be the higher level of awareness about the law in the two states.
Second in terms of crimes against women is the West Central Railway, which serves Eastern & Central Madhya Pradesh, Southern Uttar Pradesh and Northeastern Rajasthan state. The total number of arrests here during the 37-month period was 96.
Third was Central Railway — mostly Maharashtra, but also parts of North-Eastern Karnataka and Southern Madhya Pradesh. The total number of arrests here was 71.
In comparison, the total number of arrests related to these crimes in Northern Railway, which includes Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and a large part of Uttar Pradesh, was just 15 over the 3 years and 1 month. The lowest incidence of such arrests was in the North East Railway division at just 7.
However, across Railway divisions, the numbers have been increasing fast over the last three years, even where such arrests have been rare. For example, 5 of the 7 arrests in NE Railway happened in 2012, and 8 of the 15 arrests in Northern Railway happened in 2012 as well.
77 of 153 arrests made in Southern Railway also belonged to 2012.
The trend was also reflected in the total statistics for Indian Railways. There were 0 registered cases of rapes on Railway property in 2010, 3 in 2011 and 4 in 2012. Similarly, molestation cases increased to 119 in 2012 from 72 in the previous year and 52 in the year before that. Similar increases were seen in the ‘misbehavior’ cases as well (see charts below)
The proportion of charge-sheets filed and prosecutions launched — compared against total arrests — has also declined in the 2010-2012 period. However, that might be because of a time-lag between the arrests and the prosecution.