When the 27-yr-old finally reached officials, she was told to go back to her berth because the men were asleep by then and weren’t drinking on the train at that moment.

Woman reports drunk men on night train harassing her Railways puts onus on herRepresentational image
news Women's Safety Monday, July 01, 2019 - 18:08

Raising alarming concerns on the safety of women in Indian trains, a 27-year-old woman was harassed and hazed by a man who was part of a group of drunk men – and when she was finally able to reach authorities seeking help, she was roundly dismissed and told to simply go back to her berth. 

Neha Gudugunti, who works with a multinational company in Coimbatore, boarded a train to Mangaluru from Goa on Sunday night. The train, Jabalpur Coimbatore Express, was late by around nine hours, and arrived by 9.30 pm at the station. She boarded the third AC compartment to see some men in an inebriated state. Neha had a side-lower berth, and there were only two other people in the coupe, both of whom were asleep. 

“The group of men were sitting just two compartments away from me. One of them showed me a gesture, asking me to come to his berth. I thought he was communicating with someone standing behind me, but there was no one when I looked back,” Neha tells TNM. 

“He did it again, and I asked him what he was doing. Suddenly, he came towards me, and threateningly asked me what I said,” Neha recalls, “I was scared and didn’t want to provoke him. So I told him I said nothing, but he insisted that he heard me say something. I got really scared. I looked for the ticket examiner, but couldn’t find him anywhere nearby. And soon, I left to sit in a General Sleeper compartment.”

She then started calling railway helpline numbers, but not a single call was answered. 

By then, Neha had reached out to her friend Ebin Gheevarghese, a journalist based out of Bengaluru. Ebin, too, tried calling the helpline numbers and tweeted when he failed to get through to one. He tweeted tagging the Railways Ministry, who in turn marked Konkan Railways to look into it. One of Ebin’s friends saw his tweet and contacted a journalist with contacts in the Railways. And perhaps following this intervention, Neha got a call from Railway Protection Force Palakkad at midnight, who told her that the message will be passed to the nearest Railway Station.

When the train reached Karwar, an RPF team called her up and asked her to come to the third AC compartment to identify the men. “When I went to the compartment, I saw the men sleeping. Then the RPF team told me they can do something only if the men were found drinking on the train. They didn’t even wake the men up, neither did they examine them. The TTE, who was also there, was telling me sit to go back to my berth, which I rejected because I didn’t find it safe at all,” Neha says. 

“Though I pleaded with him to give me a berth in another AC compartment, he ignored me. I came back to the General Compartment,” she says. At Udupi, another RPF team called her up to say they checked her complaint but could not ‘find anything’. Not just that, they asked Neha to tell them what sections the men should be charged for. 

“They asked me if there was any physical abuse. I asked in return if I needed to wait for some physical abuse to happen and it was for them to decide what charges should be imposed,” she says.

“They asked me to inform some officials when I get down in Mangaluru, but I didn’t see anyone there except for the station master. Till now I haven’t got any follow up call from anyone,” she says.

When Neha tweeted about the incident, the Konkan Railway responded: “The complaint has been investigated by the RPF (Security department) Konkan Railway and it is found that there is no complaint from lady passenger.”

“This shows you guys did not do any investigation. Your helpline numbers are useless. All the Konkan police I spoke to were redirecting me to some one or the other. Please check the screenshot I have attached to see how many calls I have made from Thivim to Madgaon,” Neha responded. 

 

 

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