Kochi: With Kochi Metro completing nine months of operations, various violations of law as well as serious crimes are being reported from its 16 stations. While the local police were dealing with the cases so far, an exclusive police station for the Metro will be opened within a month to enable better law enforcement.
The building for the Metro police station is getting ready behind the CUSAT Metro station. While there are 11 Metro police stations in Delhi, there are none in Chennai, which got the Metro before Kochi.
The authorities are of the view that the nature of crimes reported from Kochi Metro would not be different from those taking place in the city. Theft, knife attacks or even murder could take place at Metro stations or in trains and their mounting numbers would demand a separate police station.
For example, around 11,000 cases were registered for crimes in Delhi Metro last year. The number of fines imposed was much bigger. Authorities expect the Kochi Metro to match the Delhi Metro in crime figures even though it is a smaller network.
Major violations of the law reported from Kochi Metro so far include a political protest when a large group of party workers and leaders stormed into a station and caused widespread damage and a drunken youth walked along a Metro track.
It is felt that similar to rail blockade by parties against the central government, organisations could hold Metro blocking agitations against the state government.
The central government had passed the Metro maintenance operation and maintenance Act way back in 2002, anticipating the crimes that would take place in the several upcoming Metro projects in the country.
Kochi Metro Police Station
A circle inspector will be the station house officer in charge of the new Metro police station, which will deal with violations of the law in the operational area of Kochi metro rail limited (KMRL). The total strength of the station will be 29 initially, including the CI. There will be three sub-inspectors, including a woman officer, and six ASIs – three of whom will be women.
The station building has been constructed by the KMRL and the facility will become functional after a conference hall is added. The station will deal with violations of law and register cases. However, the security duties are carried out by personnel of state industrial security force (SISF) for which the government has sanctioned 138 posts now. However, the requirement is 347 personnel.
Kochi City police commissioner M P Dinesh says the new Metro police station would ease the burden of the local police. However, he does not feel that the city would witness a sharp increase in crime figures as a result of the Metro. “The crime rate in Kochi has been constant over the past few years. The Metro will not change that,” said Dinesh.
Crime & punishment
The following is a list of the major offences under the Metro maintenance Act 2002 and punishment suggested:
• Consuming liquor, using drugs, shouting, indecent behaviour, swearing, showering abuses on other passengers, urinating in trains or on station premises, having food and drinking water inside trains and in stations, spitting, causing disturbance to other passengers or picking up fights with them and sitting on the floor of coaches – A fine of Rs 500 with the option of de-boarding and seizing of the ticket.
• Carrying weapons – Rs 500 fine and cost of any damage caused by its use.
• Disfiguring trains or station with graffiti, posters etc. – A fine of Rs 1,000.
• Disobeying Metro officials’ instructions to disembark from train or leave the station – A Rs. 1,000 fine and eviction by force. This offence could also invite imprisonment up to six months.
• Sitting or standing in spots not meant for passengers - A fine of Rs 50, eviction from train and even a prison term of one month.
• Illegal entry to Metro station – A fine of Rs 250 and three months in jail
• Walking along tracks – Rs 500 and a possible six-month prison term
• Disrupting Metro service in any way – A fine of Rs 2,000. This includes blockade and misuse of emergency stop facility. If the offence is taken to a trial, the fine could go up to Rs 5,000 and lead to a jail sentence of four years.
• Hampering the work of Metro officials – A fine of Rs 1,000 and a likely four-year prison term.
• Ticketless travel, travelling beyond the destination – Rs 50, with the option to charge the maximum ticket rate as fine. If fine is not paid, offenders can spend a month behind bars.
• Removing or defacing information notices – A fine of Rs 250 and a month in jail
• Misuse of emergency alarm – Rs 1,000 plus a possible one-year sentence.
• Unauthorised trade in trains or at stations – A fine of Rs 500 or six months in jail.
• Illegal sale of Metro train tickets – A fine of Rs 500.
• Carrying dangerous substances – A fine of Rs 5,000 and four years in jail, plus the cost of the damage in case of an accident.
The crime scenario in Delhi Metro
The Delhi Metro, which is the country’s biggest, also recorded the highest number of crimes last year. The most common offence in the Delhi Metro was travelling in ladies’ coaches – as many as 9,003 men were fined. In Kochi Metro, there are no separate coaches for women, but seats are reserved for them. If men sit on women’s seat, they will be fined.
Last year, Delhi Metro imposed fines on 2,399 passengers for travelling while drunk or for drinking in trains.
There are 11 police stations under a police officer in the rank of a DCP which ensure law and order at the 153 Metro stations in Delhi. In total, they registered 11,000 cases last year, a majority of which related to theft and picking of pockets. Other crimes included suicides, travelling with guns and other weapons and indecent behaviour towards women.
Cases have been registered also for creating ruckus at stations and assaulting Metro staff. Instances of leaving articles in trains and stations by passengers are common in Delhi for which numerous complaints are filed.
The Central Secretariat Metro police station in Delhi is a good indicator of the crime scene in the national capital’s Metro – 2,294 were registered here last year.
Chennai a better place
Though Metro arrived in Chennai before Kochi, it is yet to get an exclusive Metro police station. Offences in the Metro areas are dealt with by a special wing of the Chennai police headed by an official of SP rank.
In case a crime is reported, the nearest local police would take up the case. Compared to Delhi, the number of offences in Chennai is negligible. Most of the violations reported related to drunken travel and thefts. Crime rate in Chennai Metro is lower also than that in the suburban trains in the city.
However, authorities in Chennai are going ahead with plans to set up a Metro police station to cater solely to the city’s 20 Metro stations – 13 of which are elevated and the remaining underground.