Lucknow, Oct. 1: A senior IAS officer accused of molesting a female co-passenger on the Lucknow Mail last night was stopped from “escaping” by railway police jawans who accepted the alleged victim’s version over that of the bureaucrat, sources said.
Shashi Bhushan Lal Susheel, who is in his early forties, is posted in Lucknow as special secretary to the state government’s department of technical education. The alleged victim is a 25-year-old, Delhi-based IT professional and was travelling to Lucknow with her mother in the same AC coach of the Delhi-Lucknow train.
Susheel allegedly tried to escape after the train reached Lucknow this morning but the jawans, alerted by the IT professional’s mother, caught him and brought him to the police station where he was arrested.
The IAS officer claimed he had been “framed after a quarrel broke out on the train” that involved caste slurs against him. However, the case quickly assumed a high profile because of his rank and status, and prompted women’s activists to demand stringent punishment for him.
Shalini Mathur, an activist, praised the alleged victim’s mother for having the courage to approach the police and thanked the jawans for acting against Susheel despite knowing he was a powerful bureaucrat.
Susheel has been charged with several offences, including “assault or use of criminal force on a woman with intent to outrage her modesty”, which carries a two-year term.
Harjeet Sharma, deputy inspector-general of railway police, told reporters that Susheel had been accused of passing lewd remarks at the victim since boarding the train last night from Ghaziabad and later molesting her.
Sharma said that according to the complainants, Susheel had briefly become apologetic after the victim raised the alarm and touched the feet of her mother. But the elderly lady ignored this and approached the police after the train reached Lucknow.
“We have found the complaint prima facie actionable, taken the IAS officer into custody and sent him for a medical examination,” Sharma said.
Susheel, who was allowed to speak to the media after his arrest, said: “I had involuntarily brushed against her in the crowded coach, as a result of which her belongings dropped to the floor, making her fly into a rage and level wild allegations against me.”
He said he was from a backward caste and alleged that the IT professional’s mother had hurled a caste slur against him.
But women’s activists demanded the state government suspend Susheel immediately.
“He is clearly trying to divert attention (from the alleged molestation). He should be awarded as big a punishment as his post,” said Roop Rekha Verma, former vice-chancellor of Lucknow University.