“To me, it actually seemed like a scene straight out of the movies."

Vendors groping hands on Kerala train caught thanks to officers timely response
news News Friday, June 24, 2016 - 17:52

Meeta (name changed) is a daily commuter in one of the premium short distance trains operating in Kerala. As per her routine, that morning too –this was sometime in the second week of June this year- she was getting ready to alight at her approaching destination, when suddenly she felt a hand creeping towards her bottom. In a jiffy, she reflexively hit out with her hand bag.

To her utter shock, she realized that the culprit was the book vendor who had just a few minutes ago literally dumped a pile of twenty books onto her lap, much to her chagrin. Anyone who has traveled by train in India is sure to recognize these mostly unauthorized vendors who hop in and out of coaches forcing wares on hapless passengers.

Sharing her humiliating experience with The News Minute, Meeta recalls: “This happened right in front of the pantry cabin just adjacent to the exit. The guys in the pantry saw what had happened, but when called upon to react, they simply shrugged their shoulders and said that it did not fall into their purview of responsibility".

Alighting at the station, she immediately rushed to the station master who thankfully was quick in taking up the issue, but by then the offender had slipped away in the jostling crowd gathered on the platform.

Meeta was however in no mood to take it lying down and so went on to register her complaint on the Indian Railways website. She was actually very surprised to get a call from the Railways Public Grievance Cell in Kerala, where a Complaints Inspector spoke to her and assured her that the matter will be looked into.

“I never thought someone in government service could be so courteous and helpful. When I told him, I would like to pursue the case, but at the same time, did not want my name to be bandied about in public, he gave me a personal number and asked me to get in touch the next time, I happened to see the same guy again,” Meeta recounts.

Even before a week had passed, Meeta saw the same chap saunter into her compartment with no remorse whatsoever. She discreetly rang the number the Inspector had given her and apprised him of the situation. Within minutes, she saw a couple of personnel from the Railway Police Force (RPF) arrive and without any brouhaha, lead the said individual away.

Meeta shares: “To me, it actually seemed like a scene straight out of the movies. The Inspector then rang me up again to say that one of them would call me right away, and if I could by any sign or movement confirm that they had the right guy. I did accordingly and once the train reached a station, the culprit was taken away. You have no idea just how relieved I was not to have publicly dealt with the entire episode. Hats off to these people who executed their job with such alacrity and empathy!”  

When The News Minute contacted the Complaints Inspector to ask about how the case would be pursued further, he went on to elaborate: “Once we nab the culprit, we immediately hand him over to the nearest police station. Because as per the law of the land, the case will ultimately have to come before the court for it to be finally resolved. Till the time we were involved, we managed to protect the identity of the complainant. But for a legal course of action to be taken, the complainant will have to appear in person and file an official complaint in this regard. This is where most people back out due to sheer dread at getting involved in a long, winding legal tangle or fear of a backlash.”

For the moment however, Meeta is happy at how things have worked out, though she too does not want to get herself into a load of legal imbroglio by further pursuing the matter.

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