A woman travelling from New Jalpaiguri station in north Bengal on the Dibrugarh-Delhi Brahmaputra Express had to jump off the train to escape rape.
According to railway officials, the woman was attacked near Ara, 50km west of Patna, by an army officer, identified as Rakesh Kumar, on her way to the bathroom. Seeing no escape route she jumped out of the moving train. The accused was captured by a co-passenger A.D. Upadhyaya, another army man attached to Assam Rifles, and was handed over to the police at Buxar railway station.
“It is quite miraculous that she has survived. The train at that point of time was running at top speed,” said an official of the North Eastern Railway. “She was brought to the Ara railway station on a track maintenance trolley by railway employees. The woman is now being treated at a hospital in Bihar and is said to be out of danger.”
The district magistrate of Bhojpur Pratima S. Verma told newsmen over the phone; “The woman is in danger and is being monitored by doctors. She has suffered severe injuries on her head and legs. She will be shifted to Patna for further treatment and then to Delhi or Darjeeling according to her family’s wishes. We have informed her parents who are on their way.”
The victim is a mother of twins, who was travelling to spend time with her husband who works in Delhi.
This incident has again brought to focus the safety of women on public transport systems in India. There were angry protests by activist groups at railway stations as they demanded protection for women travelling by train. “The woman was travelling in an air-conditioned compartment. If this is the kind of security the railway provides in compartments which is considered as higher class, then imagine the plight of women in the general compartments,” said a non-governmental organization working for women.
“There is a railway police force which is supposed to guard passengers. But they are so corrupt that they only focus on how to earn additional money by harassing people and taking bribes from them for less serious crime like smoking,” said Ayan Ghosh, a railway commuter. [GN]