Jamshedpur, Dec. 17: A 12-year-old schoolgirl from Assam who was 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 today.
The accused, identified as Mohammed Nafiz, 32, who hails from Uttar Pradesh, has been arrested and charged with molestation and attempt to rape.
According to the 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 a halt in Jamshedpur.
The family from Upper Assam was travelling in S4 coach. While she and her mother occupied two lower berths, her father had a seat elsewhere in the same coach.
Nafiz did not have a confirmed ticket and struck a deal with the TTE for a seat in S4. He boarded the Howrah-bound train from Ahmednagar.
“The man sat on the floor of the compartment. Once everyone fell asleep, he slipped unnoticed onto the lower berth where the girl was sleeping. Around 1am, her screams woke everyone up,” Ram said. He added that Nafiz who had taken advantage of the girl being alone on the berth had allegedly undressed her while she slept and was groping her.
When the victim’s father and co-passengers rushed to her rescue, Nafiz claimed he was a respectable draftsman with a private company in UP and denied any role in the alleged crime. He was handed over to the escort party and once the train reached Tatanagar around 1.30am, he was taken into GRP custody.
The victim and her parents got off the train to lodge a written complaint. They returned to Howrah in a morning train after having completed necessary formalities.
Speaking to The Telegraph over phone, the girl’s mother expressed concern over safety of train travel. “I was asleep and could not protect my daughter. It is unfortunate that there is no guarantee of safety even when you travel with reserved tickets,” the 35-year-old mother said.
Station manager Awtar Singh said the GRP was probing the incident. “We will zero in on the TTE in question. Passengers’ safety should not be ignored under any circumstances,” he added. Ram confirmed that Nafiz had been arrested and charged under Sections 354 (molestation) and 511 (attempt to rape) IPC. “We have forwarded the accused to the railway court in Chakradharpur. He will be produced before a magistrate tomorrow,” the OC said.
The girl is assumed to be part of a 39-member team sent by the Assam Directorate of Sports to participate in the National School Games swimming championship in Pune.
The directorate of sports was yet to be informed about the incident. “We have not been informed at all. The girl should be one of the few players who were accompanied by their parents,” said assistant director Uday Kamal Chetia who looks after the National School Games affairs.