Sister Sharel, vice-principal of Dhanbad’s Carmel School, hands over the letter to a railway official on Monday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Dhanbad/Patna, Nov. 25: Government Railway Police (GRP) today suspended five policemen for dereliction of duty after media reports highlighted police inaction during Saturday night’s teasing of 93 Dhanbad schoolgirls on a platform at Patna Junction.
Patna rail superintendent of police (SP) Upendra Kumar Sinha, who issued the suspension order after a preliminary inquiry, said. “We took the matter seriously and suspended ASI Shyam Sundar Singh and four constables R. Paswan, Dinesh Kumar, Kriti Chandra and Chandramohan Kumar Singh.”
This morning, Sinha also spoke to a teacher, who had been on platform No. 10 at Patna station on the fateful Saturday night with 93 schoolgirls from Classes IX to XII, four other colleagues and a nun from Carmel schools in Dhanbad and Digwadih, all mute witnesses to the heckling.
Rail SP Sinha asked teacher Sonali Singh of Carmel School (Dhanbad) specifically whether any sexual assault had taken place, reported erroneously by a section of the media.
Singh categorically denied sexual assault but confirmed that the youths passed lewd verbal remarks at the teenage girls for some 45 minutes. She added that no policeman intervened to help the girls and accompanying teachers.
Rail SP Sinha informed her about the suspension of five policemen and promised an inquiry.
“I also received a call from Patna additional director general of railway police P.N. Rai this afternoon who took the details of the incident. The ADG specifically asked if any student or teacher had been physically assaulted, which we categorically denied,” teacher Singh told mediapersons in Dhanbad.
On Saturday, as soon as Ganga-Damodar Express arrived on platform No. 10 in Patna at 11.30pm, hordes of railway recruitment aspirants, many ticketless, barged into the S1 compartment and blocked two doors, scaring the girls from boarding the train despite their having reserved seats.
For the next 45 minutes, the youths rained a torrent of lewd remarks at the teenage girls.
This afternoon, vice principal of Carmel School (Dhanbad) Sister Sharel and teachers Singh and Darleen Rydqvist submitted complaints addressed to divisional railway manager (Dhanbad division) B.B. Singh and senior commandant of RPF Hiramani Tiwari.
They also met Tiwary’s deputy S.N. Ojha, assistant commandant of RPF.
A copy of the complaint has also been sent to Arunendra Kumar, Railway Board chairperson.
Rail SP Sinha condemned the incident and called it very unfortunate to have happened at Patna Junction.
“I came to know the schoolgirls girls and teachers were forced to travel in another coach, as the youths had blocked the doors of the compartment (S1). Constables and the ASI on duty had disappeared from the scene,” he added.
The girls and their teachers were returning from their two-day educational tour in Patna when the incident occurred between 11.30pm on Saturday and 12.15am on Sunday.
Though Sinha claimed adequate security personnel are deputed on all 10 platforms of Patna Junction, platform No. 10, the farthest from the main station, is most unsafe. The first bomb exploded on the day of Hunkar Rally on this platform.
A regular local passenger and resident of Kankerbagh in Patna, Ramesh Singh, said: “I hardly find any security personnel at Platform No. 10. It is the most neglected platform.”