Jamshedpur, Dec. 17: A 12-year-old Assam schoolgirl, returning with her parents from swimming nationals in Pune, was allegedly stripped and groped on board the Howrah-bound Azad Hind Superfast Express near Tatanagar station early on Tuesday.
The accused, identified as Uttar Pradesh native Mohammed Nafiz (32), has been arrested and charged with molestation and attempt to rape.
According to officer-in-charge of Tatanagar GRP Ram Chandra Ram, the incident took place between 12.30am and 1.20am, minutes before the train was scheduled for halt in Jamshedpur.
The family from upper Assam was travelling in coach S4. While the mother-daughter duo occupied two facing lower berths, the father had a seat elsewhere in the same coach.
Nafiz, on the other hand, did not have a confirmed ticket and had struck a deal with the TTE for a seat in S4. A resident of Saharanpur, he boarded the train for Howrah from Ahmednagar.
“Initially, the man sat on the floor of the compartment. But once everyone fell asleep, he slipped onto the lower berth where the girl was sleeping. Around 1am, her screams woke everyone up,” Ram said.
He added that Nafiz allegedly undressed her while she slept and groped her.
When the victim’s father and co-passengers rushed to rescue, Nafiz claimed he was a draftsman with a private company and had no role in alleged crime. He was, however, handed over to the escort party and once the train reached Tatanagar from Chakradharpur around 1.30am, he was taken into GRP custody.
The victim and her parents too got off at Tatanagar to lodge a written complaint. They returned to Howrah by a morning train.
Speaking to The Telegraph over phone, the girl’s mother expressed her concerns over safety of train travel. “I was asleep and couldn’t protect my daughter. It is unfortunate that there is no guarantee of safety even when you travel with reserved tickets,” she said.
Station manager Awtar Singh said that the GRP was probing the incident. “We will zero in on the TTE,” he added.
Ram confirmed that Nafiz had been arrested and charged under Sections 354 (molestation) and 511 (attempt to rape) of the IPC. “We have forwarded the accused to the railway court in Chakradharpur. He will be produced before a magistrate on Wednesday,” he said.