Dipesh Tank. A Malad resident who is making Mumbai local trains safer for women. A definite Highway Hero.
Sexual violence against women is an issue of concern in India. In Mumbai’s local trains, it’s like an everyday affair. While most choose to vent it out with rallies, petitions and social media, one Malad resident has actually taken action. He has helped nab at least 150 offenders so far.
Meet Dipesh Tank. He who has been helping railway officials nab eve-teasers on Mumbai local trains. His technique is no less than James Bond’s.
Dipesh Tank and WARR
Dipesh started War Against Railway Rowdies (WARR) in the year 2013. He wanted highlight harassment of women on the Mumbai local trains. The Nirbhaya incident of December 2012 angered many. It got him thinking on what led to such beastly acts. The daily offences of sexual harassment – lewd gestures or cat calling – that go unpunished, he realised.
“I knew something had to be done immediately”, Dipesh says. Soon after, he noticed a group of boys in a Mumbai local train hitting every other woman with a rose. This time, he decided to report it to the police. Not only was the police least interested but also brushed Dipesh off. After he coaxed a constable to accompany him to warn the goons, they had conveniently moved on to a different location.
Nabbing over 150 offenders till date
Dipesh was not one to give up. He started recording live acts of sexual harassment on Mumbai local trains and railway stations on his mobile phone camera. He started handing this evidence over to the railway police. The technique had its effect – the offenders were identified and seized by the police. Subsequently, Dipesh invested in a pair of sunglasses that came built-in with an HD camera to record and report sexual offenders by calling in the GRP helpline – 9833331111 and even posting this on Facebook. Since then, War Against Railway Rowdies has caught over 150 molesters and offenders.
This exemplary social feat has not been without challenges. There are practical difficulties when in calling GRP helpline and requesting police personnel at the next station to nab the molester. “Sometimes, there is poor or no network on trains to connect a call. And even when you do, locating the right coach with the offender takes a while”, says Dipesh. He suggests numbering the coaches of Mumbai local trains as they are numbered for the pan-Indian railways. This will help identify an incident or offender quickly and enhance the safety of all passengers, particularly women.
How You Can Help this Highway Hero
Despite his unparalleled success, Dipesh is disappointed that people merely congratulate him and not take action themselves. He believes that even a small step makes a difference and counts. He believes that Mumbai would be free from sexual crime if every person who saw a lewd comment or gesture around confronted such behaviour. Dipesh also educates women on domestic violence and is the founder of another NGO, Youth for People, that helps people in need of financial and emotional support. Almost everyone in the NGO manages a day job and still helps fellow citizens. That’s what real heroes are made of isn’t it?