The present Railway Protection Force (RPF), a paramilitary force, was advanced by a Central act in 1957, further amended in 1985 and 2003. Now a 70,000-strong workforce, the RPF has evolved from the British era to its present status of the armed force of the Union.
What do they do?
Dipti Chaudhary, 26, always wanted to serve the nation and being in an armed force was the best way to do so, she thought. But why did she choose the Railway Protection Force (RPF)? “My father is in the RPF. He is a sub-inspector,” says a visibly proud Chaudhary. “I was inspired by my father a lot.”
Chaudhary did her BA (honours) in economics from Daulat Ram College in 2005. She went on to do her MA in sociology, from Himachal Pradesh University in 2007, through correspondence. She then prepared for competitive examinations for a year and finally landed sub-inspector’s job in the RPF in 2009. Following the nine-month compulsory training at JR RPF Academy, Lucknow, and a couple of month’s practical training, she was inducted into the RPF in 2010.
Chaudhary is yet to complete a year in service but has already got a taste of it. She was part of the special team escorting the Commonwealth Games Express that plied between Delhi and Agra carrying foreign players, officials and dignitaries during the recently concluded games in Delhi. During the 15-day span, she woke up at 3am daily and reported to the Safdarjung Railway Station at 5am. Chaudhary had to supervise coach C-7 with three constables who were under her command. At 5am sharp, she took charge of the coach, and instructed her subordinates about the role they were required to play — to be in a state of high alert. The train with foreign nationals left at 8am every day for Agra and left Agra at 3pm on its return journey.
“One day on the way back, the train suddenly stopped near Mathura station without being signalled to stop,” she recalls. She, upon receiving a message via walkie-talkie, along with other members of the security team, immediately disembarked to keep vigil on the surrounding area of the coach. “Everyone was put on high alert. A feeling of patriotism gave us courage and strength,” she recounts. They were on high alert for 15 minutes before the train again chugged along on its course. Nothing untoward had happened but the lesson she learnt would motivate her to work more diligently and with more courage in the days ahead.
Indian Railways has more than 1,00,000 track kilometres, 4000 trains, 8000 locomotives, 8000-odd stations and more than 14 lakh employees catering to around
20 million passengers who travel across 28 states and two union territories of the country, everyday.
“In keeping with this magnitude, the security obligations are equally vast and challenging,” says AK Singh, inspector, RPF, crime investigation branch, headquarters, New Delhi. And RPF is part and parcel of this security obligation that ranges from protection of railway assets worth millions of rupees, vital installations and construction projects to commodities under transportation etc. “Security of railway passengers is an upcoming priority of the force,” says Singh.
What is unique about the RPF is that by virtue of its status it is an armed force of the Union, with work culture of a police organisation holding power of investigation and prosecution of offenders under Railway Property (Unlawful Possession) Act and the Railways Act, says Singh.
What has made the job of an RPF officer more challenging than ever before is the country’s changing security scenario. To combat terrorists, security men are being given special commando training, alongside “courses in bomb disposal, disaster management, fire control etc,” says Chaudhary. And training like this and the zeal to overcome all odds will inspire people like Singh and Chaudhary to join the RPF.
. Some prior knowledge of basic security arrangements
. Proper knowledge of English
. Some knowledge of weapons
. Be creative and progressive
. Awareness of physical fitness
How do I get there?
ndian Railways is the country’s single largest employer. Employees are classified as gazetted (Group A and B) and non-gazetted (Group C and D). The recruitment for Group A is carried out through the civil services exam held by the Union Public Service Commission. The RPF has its selection mechanism for sub-inspector’s and constable’s posts and convened by selection committees formed by the Railway Board. There are instances when good officers recruited as sub-inspectors rose to the rank of DIG. However, at present 50% of the posts in the rank of Assistant Commandant (Gr A) are filled up by promotion and remaining by direct recruitment. To become a sub-inspector in the RPF, you should be a graduate and meet physical standards set in this regard. Once qualified in the physical and written tests, a candidate goes through interview and medical examination before going for nine-month training. After the training, you are deployed in the field .