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January 23, 2015

Railway police strength less than 1977 level


January 23, 2015

WITH the threat of terror looming large in the country and installations of public congregation being cited as probable targets, Pakistan Railway Police is guarding life and property with personnel strength even less than that sanctioned according to the 1977’s population.
Pakistan Railway Police (PRP) was created in 1977 following the Railway Police Ordinance 1976 after a bill was tabled by the then federal government. This led to the enactment of PRP Act 1977.
After taking into account the population, number of trains and passengers the research carried out by the federal institutions defined the total sanctioned strength of PRP to be 7,522. This included one inspector general, one deputy inspector general, five superintendents, 16 deputy superintendents, 22 inspectors, 145 sub inspectors, 104 ASI’s 850 head constables and 6,374 constables.
After 37 years of population and passenger growth with expanding railway stations and stoppages, PRP is currently operating with 7,074 personnel with around 1,000 constables less that that needed in 1977. Currently PRP strength includes inspector general, one deputy inspector general, 10 superintendents, 15 deputy superintendents, 40 inspectors, 169 sub inspectors, 287 ASI’s 880 head constables and 5,671 constables.
The previous IG Railway Police Syed Ibn-e-Hussain had pointed out the difficulty of ensuring safety with far below required manpower. When contacted, PRP spokesperson said the concern and request for the same had been forwarded a number of times to the Pakistan Railways management and finance.
There already have been incidents where the terrorists have tried pursuing their nefarious intentions to target Railway Stations; one of such incidents took three lives when a bomb exploded at the Platform Number 2 of Lahore Railway Station. Pakistan Railway Police is entrusted with the security of life and property of a jurisdiction which extends over the entire infrastructure of Railways,

including all Railway Stations, residential colonies, dwelling houses and barracks of railways servants and any other property on the lands belonging to Pakistan Railways excluding the rail tracks beyond station limits.
More interestingly still, is the fact that the total strength of the PRP was increased by 607 to 8,095 in 1980 owing to the increase in work load and expanding responsibilities. This increase rightly included an addition of 50 head constables and 400 constables. However, the federal government decided to slash the strength of the PRP owing to financial crisis. When probed, there were no documents or record regarding the study conducted on figure the number needed to be slashed. This time the strength was reduced by 1,200 constables which are the most baseline instrument of the railways security apparatus responsible for surveillance and action.
Despite the extraordinary security situation in the country and the need to act in accordance, there was no effort to build the capacity of this rather sensitive-to-public-security force. In 2003, the ban on recruitment placed in 2000 was lifter and the strength was increased by 308. However, majority of these 308 were officers of ranks ASI and above. When contacted, Pakistan Railways Chief of Accounts and Member Finance Ghulam Mustafa agreed that the concern regarding strength of PRP was not out of place at all considering the extraordinary security challenges faced by the country at present. He, however, argued that although the need was legit, yet, Pakistan Railway’s financial capacity to add manpower was very limited. He pointed out that around 68 percent of total funds were utilised in salaries and pensions. He said that rationalising of the Pakistan Railways manpower, in all departments was needed. The improving financial state of affairs of Pakistan Railways looks promising and strengthening the security through transparent and merit-based capacity building is among the top priorities, he said. This, however, cannot be done without making financial sense as that would only make things worse.

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