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Rail touts molest girls

Guwahati, Dec. 31: Masquer-ading as travel agents, hoodlums molested 17 tribal girls from Tripura and robbed them of cash and valuables at Guwahati railway station yesterday.

The unsavoury episode exposed the holes in the security arrangements at the region’s largest railway station, which only recently witnessed a blast that killed four persons.

The Tripura girls, all of th-em members of an NGO, were returning home from Bihar. Although the incident occur-red yesterday morning, an FIR wasn’t registered until late la-st night at Paltan Bazar police station. The city-based Kaly-an Ashram reported the incident to the police.

A police team today rounded up some suspects for questioning, but the prime accused are absconding.

“They were ruffians and behaved very indecently with all of us,” one of the victims said. Jaleshwar Brahma, the general secretary of the Kal-yan Ashram, said the girls were waylaid by the “fake travel agents” just after they disembarked from the train. “Th-ey snatched some cash from them. When the girls protested, the touts molested them.”

Engaged in the implementation of various projects of Kalyan Ashram, the victims had gone to Katihar, in Bihar, to participate in a youth sports competition. “The participants returned to Guwahati railway station at 4 am on Saturday by Avadh-Assam Express. They were about to walk to the Kalyan Ashram office near the station when the incident occurred,” Brahma said.

As soon as news of the incident reached the Kalyan Ashram office, some of its activists went to the spot. Brahma said the activists met the same fate as the girls. “They were assaulted and there was no policemen to rescue them, though the police station is close by.”

Kalyan Ashram has decided to approach the Kamrup metro deputy commissioner, the senior superintendent of police and NF Railway offici-als to demand a speedy investigation. “We will highlight how the railway station has become the hub of unauthorised travel agents and thugs,” Brahma said.

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