Citizens' Issues
Central Railway's shoddy CCTV camera work at Dadar
CCTV cameras installed for surveillance at Dadar railway station, especially on the Central line, seem positioned to avoid capturing people or suspicious movements. This renders them completely useless and raises questions about whether there is any supervision and whether cameras are deliberately mis-positioned
 
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are meant to enhance public safety and play a major role in identifying suspects or strange behaviour. However, our attempt to track the movements of our recently deceased colleague, Abhishek Rajak turned into a learning experience. After spending several hours poring over the footage at Dadar station, we found that most of the cameras on the Western line only captured the backs of people, while the cameras on the Central line, were turned away from the most crowded platform 4 and the GRP office as well. 
 
Dadar is one of the most crowded stations on Mumbai's rail network and yet, CCTV recording and camera positions, especially on the Central Railway (CR) line needs a close scrutiny by the authorities.
 
Our colleague, Abhishek Rajak was found dead on the rail tracks on 17th July. The reason for our effort to trace his movements was that on the 17th, two people were told that Abhishek had been detained and let off. The police later recanted and claimed there was no detention at all. An hour after the phone calls, Abhishek's body was apparently discovered between Diva and Mumbra stations, about 40-45 minutes distance from Dadar. His phone, which was off for several hours was mysteriously switched on and working. His last call known to us, was from the station to office, when he called to inform of some corrections in articles he had uploaded. 
 
While scrutinising the tapes, we found him on two cameras on the Western Railway side, one walking on the staircase on the middle foot over bridge (FOB) and second walking towards Central Rail line. The second camera on which we spotted him keeps rotating (for reasons only God may know), but luckily that day (on 17th July) there was some issue and it had became stationary. We saw his back and recognised him only by his clothes and backpack. We tracked him in the video footage up to the middle bridge leading to the Central Railway line after which there is nothing. We could not spot Abhishek in any of the cameras installed by CR Railway Protection Force (RPF) in their area of the middle FOB. Moreover, the cameras are positioned in such a way that it covers the staircases only halfway and that too you can see only the backs of commuters.
Platform no. 4 of CR at Dadar is one of the most crowded platforms on the network, from where commuters board fast locals going towards Thane and Kalyan. However, during our inspection, we found that not a single camera was aimed at this platform. The two-three cameras installed on this joint platform (platform3 and 4) were pointed towards platform no3, where commuters travelling on slow locals going South alight. 
 
Another point is most of the CCTV cameras at Dadar station on both Central and Western line do not capture faces of commuters because of the high angle of the cameras. So what you get in the CCTV footage is either side profiles or backs of commuters moving around the station. 
 
(Images for representation only                       Source: www.cr.indianrailways.gov.in)
 
In addition, there is no proper lighting on all platforms. This means, all CCTV videos captured during night is dark and is of little use. And this is applicable to both Central and Western lines.
 
The CCTV cameras and recording are under the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and they provide footage on request, when sent in writing to the Government Railway Police (GRP) for investigations.
 
In addition, the quality of video, especially in area under the CR's jusrisdiction is highly questionable. The videos at most crowded locations are not even clear and are of poor quality. In comparison, there was one camera installed on platform no. 6 (CR) near the CCTV control room, which not only shows clear videos but also the 'greenery' between platform 5 and 6.
 
Even the difference in attitudes of RPF personnel in the CR and the WR was poles apart. The RPF personnel from the WR side were very cooperative, either in identifying the right location and camera or showing the stored footage several times over. On the other hand, the RPF on the CR side were not only rude and adamant but also reluctant to show the footage. The major hindrance with RPF on CR side was that they need an operator to operate the CCTV system, and the operator from the company that installed the system comes only when one gets a permission in writing from RPF headquarters at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). Only after speaking with two seniors and with help from one person from the Force, we were able to see the footage of that particular time. But as discussed above, it turned out to be a complete waste of time, due to wrong camera positions and poor lighting.
 
We could not take any pictures at Dadar station as it requires special permission from the authorities. Especially, when there were both GRP and RPF personnels along with us all the time, it was not appropriate to take photos.
 
To recapitulate, Abhishek reached Dadar station at around 7.45pm on 17th July using the entrance near the Suvidha shop. There he climbed the centre FOB (towards CST) to board the 7.47pm Kalyan fast (15 coach) from platform no. 4 on Central Railway. However, he never reached home and later his body was found on the tracks between Mumbra and Diva stations. Abhishek was a stickler and always boarded the fast local while commuting between Dombivali (his home) and Dadar (his office).

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COMMENTS

Veeresh Malik

2 years ago

Despite many attempts by Central Railways to wriggle out of providing a cogent response, we continue to follow-up here, and on one level are following up as per procedure with the Chairman, Railway Board as well as PMO on this case.

After one RTI Application was summarily dismissed, I went into First Appeal as well as escalated the issue, and have now received the full correspondence on the subject. In addition there has been some anonymous input also which shall be sent to the relevant authorities, since I am now trying to get the matter escalated beyond the present Central Railways/RPF.

This is the next series of questions I have asked.

+++

Vide response to PG filed online MORLY/E/2014/14616 and response No.G/190/PG/12/2014/RB-480 signed (S.M. Kelkar), Assistant Secretary (PG), General Managers Office, Central Railway, Mumbai CST 400 001 regarding Sonal Enterprises and CCTV at Dadar Central, please provide me with full information on-

1) Full details and addresses of Sonal Enterprises said to be maintaining CCTV at Dadar Central Railway Station on 17th April 2014, including names and addresses of proprietors or owners or Directors.

2) Full information on basis by which Sonal Enterprises were selected for this work at Dadar Central.

3) Full information on other locations under Central Railway where they have been selected in the past or now for any work from Indian Railways.

4) What are terms and condition of Sonal Enterprises contract with Central Railways or Indian Railways.

5) Under what tender or contract were Sonal Enterprises selected.

6) How many people do Sonal Enterprises employ.

7) What is EPFO registration number of Sonal Enterpris and amount paid in as per returns for FY 2013-2014.

8) What is ESI Registration number of Sonal Enteprise and amount paid in as per returns for FY 2013-2014.

9) What is Maharashtra State Professional Tax registration details of Sonal Enterprise and amount paid in as per returns for FY 2013-2014.

10) What is Service Tax registration and details of Sonal Enterprise and amount paid in as per returns for FY 2013-2014.

11) Where is the control room for the CCTVs set up by Sonal Enterprises for Dadar Railway Station.

Thank you.

Veeresh Malik

2 years ago

To: Chairman, Railway Board,
New Delhi

Greetings and Jai Hind.

1) Please find enclosed response received from Office of General Manager, Central Railway, Mumbai.

2) This response is in direct contrast to actual events of 17th and 18th July 2014 as per media reports enclosed herein.

http://www.moneylife.in/article/abhishek...

http://www.moneylife.in/article/central-...

3) A "public grievance", as defined by our Prime Minister, is not a "representation". It is a grievance AGAINST a particular government agency. How that same agency within Government can respond to that very grievance, especially when it pertains to a crime resulting in death, is not understood.

By way of information, I am adding this response as well as my response to another set of Public Grievances currently filed also with other Government agencies. It is obvious that the Office of General Manager of Central Railways has not applied full effort, because nobody has contacted any of the people who actually were informed that Abhishek Rajak had been reportedly detained by Central Railway at Dadar prior to his death.

Sincerely,

Veeresh Malik

Veeresh Malik

2 years ago


[email protected]
17:06 (9 minutes ago)

to me
No.G.190/PG/7/2014/RB-176

Dear Sir,

Your representation has been examined in detail by the concerned
department and it is to state that no person by name mentioned was
detained at PRF/Thane Dadar on 17.07.2014, also the CCTV on the particular
date were working and correctly positioned.

Further, enquires revealed that Dy.SS/Diva informed Government Railway
Police, Thane about an unknown male body lying near Diva station. Later
the diseased was identified and information was given to his parents about
accident. Shri Rajkumar Rajak father of the deceased Late Shri Abhishek
Rajak, has not mentioned any incident about detention of his son at Dadar.

This is for your information please.

Yours Sincerely,


(P.N. Ramachandran)
Assistant Secretary (PG)
General Manager’s Office
Central Railway
Mumbai CST – 400 001
Ph: 022 - 22754030, 22697115


+++

This is one official response I have received. Am pursuing through other avenues also.

Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

If anybody gets a phone call from any agency claiming to be investigating this death then please -

1) Convince yourself about the said agency by asking for a landline number and name as well as number of the senior person in that office.

2) Making a call back to that number to establish the genuineness of the person.

3) Responding that all information is as per the article already given and nothing more to add.

I received a call from 9004449817 and am not able to get more information on who and why was calling me.

Thanks / Veeresh

Aditya G

3 years ago

Hi,

I've filed a PG as well.

-
Aditya

Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

It will be helpful if others, especially non-Mumbai people who are not affected by possible threats and interferences, will also file paralel pincer PGs online like I have done in this case. Same words can be copy-pasted. Thank you.

Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

4th PG filed in this context, idea is to see that "file is opened" and progress, though slow, will be steady and across different departments. Eventually, after about 10 PGs are filed across different departments, a composite Grievance shall be filed at PMO after a gap of a month or so.

GOVMH/E/2014/01142

Name Of Complainant : Veeresh Malik
Date of Receipt : 22 Jul 2014
Received by : Government of Maharashtra
Officer name : Shri. P.S. Meena
Officer Designation : Addl Chief Secretary
Contact Address : General Admn. Deptt.,
R.No. 102, Annex, Mantralaya,
Mumbai400032
Contact Number : 022-22843711
Grievance Description : Please see enclosed article carried in MONEYLIFE http://www.moneylife.in/article/central-... My grievance is that security of local train passengers and commuters appears to be at risk and I request Government of Maharashtra to kindly resolve my grievance and resolve this by investigating fully this tragic episode of death of my young work colleague as well as bring systematic changes and improvement in security at and around local train stations in Mumbai area. I shall be grateful for response in English.
Current Status : RECEIVED THE GRIEVANCE

Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

3rd PG filed in this context. It is pertinent to point out that in another case at Jodhpur Railway Station a friend's driver was badly assaulted and mistreated and I had filed 11 separate PGs on the subject. At the end, in a period of 90 days, there was multiple action and resolution.

Here also, the wheels of justice grind slowly, but they do grind.

Registration Number : CAGAO/E/2014/00182
Name Of Complainant : Veeresh Malik
Date of Receipt : 22 Jul 2014
Received by : O/o the Comptroller & Auditor General of India
Officer name : Shri Ranjit Singh
Officer Designation : Assistant C&AG N
Contact Address : 9, Deen Dayal Upadhayaya Marg,
New Delhi
110124
Contact Number : 23232902
Grievance Description : Vast amounts of money are spent by a wide assortment of government public authorities from taxpayer funds in the name of "security". There has always been a suspicion that these funds are not utilised properly. One example is enclosed below, in context with the mysterious demise of my young work colleague, while travelling by local train in Mumbai and detained at Dadar (Central) Railway Station. http://www.moneylife.in/article/central-... My grievance is that there appears to be no proper audit of such expenses and more importantly of operational results expected from such expenses and so as a public grievance in specific case and larger interest I request CAG to resolve my grievance and do a proper full audit of monetary and operational aspects of security cameras provisioned by Central Railway in local train network of Mumbai. Thank you.
Current Status : RECEIVED THE GRIEVANCE


brgds/Veeresh

Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

Paralel PG filed with Department of Home vide

Registration Number : MINHA/E/2014/01517
Name Of Complainant : Veeresh Malik
Date of Receipt : 22 Jul 2014
Received by : Department of Home
Officer name : Shri. Kumar Alok
Officer Designation : Joint Secretary Coord. &am
Contact Address : Room No. 188,
North Block,
New Delhi110001
Contact Number : 23092392
e-mail : [email protected]
Grievance Description : Please see appended article published in MONEYLIFE in context with death undermysterious circumstances between Dadar (Central) and Diva/Dombivili of my work colleague Abhishek Rajak. http://www.moneylife.in/article/central-... It is amply apparently clear that CCTV and security at Dadar (Central) is apparently not performing as it should and so my grievance to Department of Home is twofold - 1) A full and proper investigation on the death of my late colleague young Shri Abhsishek Rajak. 2) A grievance that the security system at Dadar Central and other railway stations in Mumbai area should be improved for the larger benefit of all citizens. Thank you.
Current Status : RECEIVED THE GRIEVANCE

Veeresh Malik

3 years ago

PG filed online with Indian Railways (Railway Board) MORLY/E/2014/07500

"Name Of Complainant : Veeresh Malik
Date of Receipt : 21 Jul 2014
Received by : Ministry of Railways, ( Railway Board)
Officer name : Shri Ashok Choudhary
Officer Designation : Executive Director(PG)
Contact Address : Room No. 467, Rail Bhavan,
Railway board
New Delhi110001
Contact Number : 23386203
e-mail : [email protected]
Grievance Description : Please see enclosed article which is in context with death of my colleague on Central Railway local train Mumbai. http://www.moneylife.in/article/central-... It is my grievance that despite all expenses incurred on security measures the recording devices installed at Dadar do not provide any cogent information. I shall be subsequently also pursuing this matter with PMO and CAG and Department of Home, but interim my grievance is that Ministry of Railways needs to rectify this sad situation with recording devices at Dadar Central.
Current Status : RECEIVED THE GRIEVANCE"

Request others also file PGs on this issue, many thanks.

Abhijit Gosavi

3 years ago

Very, very sorry for the loss of this young life. I was born in Dombivli; never really lived there, but have traveled on that local many times as an adult. Would not at all be surprised if the police were mis-aligning the cameras intentionally to prevent the cameras from recording their misdeeds.

I remember an incident from the 90s when college mates of mine were detained on VT (has a new name now, I think) in the evening for no real reason. They were spending the whole night at VT's waiting room to catch a train early next morning and had just innocently wandered out of the waiting room. The police let them go after extorting a few rupees, claiming they had no right to be walking around on the station.

In general, railway stations are terribly managed, and corruption is at the root of all the mismanagement. God alone knows when ordinary Indian citizens will be able to enjoy public transportation for which they pay through fares as well as taxes.

Divya Malcolm

3 years ago

Why is it that even when I reply from my e mail, Divya's name crops up?

Bapoo M Malcolm

Divya Malcolm

3 years ago

Moneylife and Samir have been upfront in exposing the many misdeeds of the Railway Protection (sic) Force, especially on the Central Railway.

Was a staff member especially targeted?

Bapoo M. Malcolm

Divya Malcolm

3 years ago

The comment was posted by me, Bapoo and not Divya. I was on her mail as I check it for her. Sorry.

Divya Malcolm

3 years ago

The best thing to do now is to start with finding out how many innocents have been arrested by the RPF on Dadar platforms. Then to check if the cops were into a daily extortion racket. Appoint a detective agency. It may cost a few bucks but it will be fast and good. We can and will contribute our mite. We must.

Let us make sure that Abhishek did not die in vain.

Taxing Times
Talk of taxes makes us run the other way. As we get ready to file our individual tax returns, we often worry whether we have added all the income and taken into account all the deductions so that we do not underpay on the one hand or fall foul of the IT department, on the other. Is there a possibility of overpaying? How should you cross check your tax computation? E-filing (compulsory for several categories of taxpayers) works fine, if you understand the process. It is undoubtedly better than standing in a queue at the I-T office, to submit your returns. Moreover, e-filing at I-T department’s website is free. Instructions are available for each ITR, but it cannot ensure smooth filing. We have put together a comprehensive guide that will help you through your tax filing process. Our Cover Story on taxation will help understand how your financial data translates into tax liability or refund calculation. 
 
In her Different Strokes section, Sucheta analyses the maiden Budget of the Modi-led government and questions whether the new government is moving along the direction it had promised before the elections. The government surely has got a lot of cleaning up to do. In her Crosshairs section, Sucheta writes about the weak regulator, the Forward Markets Commission, and suggests that a government, which has promised good governance, may want to set new rules. 
 
Ponzi schemes lure people with the promise of high returns and manage to garner a few thousand crore rupees each. Sucheta mentions that the government should keep this in mind before it allows itself to be influenced by those who are lobbying for legal protection for MLMs and chain schemes. 
 
It is with deep grief that I share with you the news that our colleague, Abhishek Rajak, died in a tragic railway accident on 17 July 2014. We have lost a wonderful, hard working colleague, who was always smiling, always ready for challenges and on the threshold of life. Words cannot describe our loss. We will miss him everyday.

User

Why Are We Crazy about Buying Houses?
Among the major asset classes are equity, debt, real estate and gold. Let’s examine real estate—its merits and demerits from an investment perspective.
 
In India, you can invest in real estate via: 1. house/flat/villa, etc; 2. plot/land; and 3. commercial property. Let’s save the first category for the last. Let me explore the first two. Land, as an investment, suffers the same demerits as gold. It doesn’t generate any income (unless it is used for agriculture). All you get are capital gains. Valuing land on the basis of price is not easy and don’t forget the liquidity. It is also a big-ticket investment and, hence, your point of entry and exit matter a lot (you can’t SIP it either). Plus there are no tax benefits. All points considered, it is not a great investment.
 
On the other hand, commercial property does provide a regular continuous income. But it is again a big-ticket investment with closed doors access to neta-babus. In my city, almost every mall/office has the backing of a politician. They are able to get access to plush land at throwaway prices. Even if a common man manages to get a piece in it, he should have the time and resources to manage it. 
 
Again, there are no tax benefits. In addition, rental income can fluctuate, based on the prevailing environment.
 
This brings me to the final option—owning a house. People buy houses for two reasons: 1. either to live in them; or, 2. as an investment. If one buys it to live in, it doesn’t matter how much one shells out. I prefer to treat it as consumption. When I say consumption, it also implies that it can be deferred. It is a trend in our country that once a person starts earning, the next goal is to buy a house—all everyone sees is the tax benefit tied to it, the status symbol, the money drained in rent, etc. Little thought is given to investing in other assets, or building a corpus for other goals, EMI burden, etc. I think the priority after getting a job should be to build a corpus with various goals like house, car, marriage, etc. 
 
Once you have a good corpus, you can make a down payment and, perhaps, even be left with a buffer. This should be the time to buy a house and enjoy the hard-earned savings.
 
In case one is buying a house as an investment (to buy in early stage and sell when ready to occupy or buy and sell in few years), one is settling for average returns. Consider this; if the house quotes a price, it has the price of the materials/labour/equipment used to build the house built into it. So you can think of it like the price of a house includes the price of cement, steel, land, labour, tiles, sanitary ware, electrical wiring, plumbing, etc. This also implies that the price of the house does not just reflect the price of individual components; it also includes a profit margin for each of the entities involved. To make it clearer, when you buy a consumer product like soap, chocolate bar, etc, it contributes a certain percentage to the profit of the entity manufacturing it. Similarly, when you buy a house, you are contributing to the profit of each entity whose goods/services are used in construction. You become part of an investment chain (similar to the food chain) where each person earns a profit. 
 
A home-buyer (investor in this case) is the last entity and is probably paying the highest price for the asset, as profits of earlier links are built into the price. Even if he manages to sell the house for a decent profit, he could have earned a better return if he was higher up the investment chain.
 
With the help of hindsight, we can prove this. In the past five years, the real estate market has been muted. But do names like Havells, Kajaria Ceramics, Cera Sanitary Ware, Astral Polytech, Somany Ceramics ring a bell? While one could also say the opposite of this by investing in, say, DLF (a colleague of mine was about to invest in this company instead of buying a house), Unitech, cement companies, steel companies, etc, the point is: by trying to invest in real estate, we are opting for sub-optimal returns, as we are the last link in the chain. Real estate loses on all fronts—liquidity, taxation, transparency, etc. 
 
Some people like to club tax benefits and the realised gains to show the total gains in an asset (for example, SBI’s tax-saving FD quoting 17% yield). I think this is a flawed model. Income saved by investing in tax-saving instruments is not my return. It is my own hard earned money. Let’s just call it saving—not returns. And seldom are we able to invest these savings—we consume them as part of monthly pay-cheque. Even if one manages to invest these savings, we can’t decide on the expected rate on return. It depends on various factors. Similarly, tax benefits from a home loan are not my return. In fact, as your tax bracket increases, a self-occupied home on an EMI and an almost equal HRA amount equalise each other. If one is, indeed, keen on saving the tax to the maximum, he should let it out. You can claim a 30% deduction on the rent before paying tax on rental income and enjoy deduction on the entire EMI interest. 
 
Among other points that make me averse to invest/buy (consume) property are: involvement of black money, bribes for registration, maintenance of the property, etc. But the major point is big-ticket investment. I don’t know if this is good or bad, but I just can't think of investing/saving lump-sum. The very idea of keeping aside some money every month and then making a purchase is uncomfortable for me. In the process, I might dip occasionally into my savings and deplete them. I rather like the periodic investment approach, as far as possible, in whatever asset class.
 
I sometimes wonder why Indians are crazy about buying houses. You see, the best things are never advertised or preached. No one tells you in school or college the importance of investment, or the importance of equity in wealth creation. 
 
Similarly, you don’t see advertisements for term plans, health insurance, or top-performing mutual funds. Instead, you see ads for colas, water purifiers, toothpastes, chocolates and what not. If this is true, don’t advertisements for flats imply the same? Is it really an investment? Or are we just a consumer? And if real estate is really an investment, why is someone selling it to me? Why not invest yourself and get rich? In the end, it is no different from any other consumer product; for the builder it is a business.  
Pravesh Pandya, by email
 
Luring unsuspecting people
A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation on Linked In from an individual whose profile read as deputy chief operating officer of a company in Chennai. As is the norm, I accepted the invite. After a few days, the person sent me an email asking me to leave my contact details with him as he wished to speak to me regarding a potential opportunity. I presumed that he was talking about a future opportunity so I did not flinch from sharing my details with him.
 
A few days later, this gentleman called me and told me about a potential opportunity from which I could earn additional income and that the effort was being steered by a group of individuals from IIMs and IITs. Being a cerebral guy, I was thrilled. I thought this may be an opportunity to get additional income by doing something creative (like management consulting, writing a book, etc).
 
On the scheduled day (it was a hot Sunday afternoon), I met this individual at the spot that we had agreed to meet. He picked me up from the bus stop in his car and led me to a venue where about 25 people seated in the dining room of a bungalow.
 
Within a few minutes, an IT geek, calling himself a product of Great Lakes Institute (Chennai), introduced himself and spoke at length about job losses, need to earn additional income, etc. To give the devil his due, he was articulate and made sense when he spoke to all of us. After about an hour, the penny dropped, as one of their team members started displaying Amway products one by one.
 
I had to excuse myself from the meeting and expressed my disappointment to my host. I told him that since he had mentioned about IIT/IIM graduates, I thought it was an academic opportunity. But my host prevaricated in giving a reply.
 
Through the columns of Moneylife, I request all readers to be careful while accepting Linked In invites and also whenever someone calls you offering an opportunity for earning additional income. Do insist on getting the full details. The modus operandi of most of these people is that they never tell you about it in the beginning. So, you end up wasting your time and money on a multi-level marketing scheme that you may not be interested in. This is one more example of how social networking tools are being misused.
G Venkatesh, by email
 
Penalty for enterprise?
This is with regard to “CSR Needs a Re-think” by Sucheta Dalal. Compulsory CSR is the refuge of a bankrupt and immoral government. Paying extortionist income-tax itself is more than enough to give back to society. With enough indirect taxes and income taxes, CSR is a penalty for efficiency and enterprise.
 
Wonder if prime minister Narendra Modi and his RSS team will have the courage to roll this back?
R Balakrishnan, online comment

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