A woman, who gave up everything except her iron bangle, a sign of her marital status, to robbers on a Sealdah-bound train on Monday night, was beaten up and molested between Park Circus and Sealdah stations. The criminals fled subsequently.
There were about seven women and fewer men in the train compartment, which left Park Circus a little after 8.15 pm. It was not crowded, for it was a winter night. The two robbers, according to police officers, boarded the train at Park Circus and stood for some time at the two entry points opposite each other. As soon as the train left the station, the two started a conversation among themselves.
“It was as if they were old friends meeting after some time. They shook hands and then they pulled out a bhojali and a revolver,” recalled a passenger. They asked the passengers to hand over all the valuables in their possession. The panic-stricken passengers did so.
Only one woman, who had already handed over her cash and jewellery, requested the robbers to spare the iron bangle on “religious grounds.”
The robbers, however, would not listen. One of them took out a bottle from his hip pocket, broke it and tried to stab the woman, a nurse at the Calcutta Medical Research Centre. She injured her right hand as she tried to resist them.
Despite the bleeding wound, the robbers forced the bangle out of her hand and then proceeded to molest her after threatening everyone else with the revolver. As the train stopped midway between Park Circus and Sealdah stations, both of them jumped off and fled, witnesses said.
As soon as the train reached Sealdah, angry passengers got off and mobbed Government Railway Police personnel. They asked why armed constables supposed to be on duty in the women’s compartments were not present. The queries, predictably, did not elicit any response and the passengers left after lodging an FIR.
None of the robbers had been arrested till late on Tuesday evening, GRP officers admitted. “We are trying to follow some specific leads and are trying to get hold of the robbers,” one of them claimed. Divisional railway manager (Sealdah) Dulal Mitra said he would find out why GRP personnel did not take adequate action. “I have decided not to allow male hawkers into ladies’ compartments in future, for often these people are behind the harassment of passengers,” Mitra added. Both the GRP and Railway Protection Force (RPF) have been directed to intensify vigil on late-night trains.