An educational tour to New Delhi to visit the Supreme Court and Parliament House turned into train trauma for a group of fourth-year students of South Calcutta Law College last week.
The 53 students, including 21 girls, were beaten up on the Toofan Express on March 25 by local passengers in Bihar for protesting their entry into the reserved compartment. Some of the girls claimed they were “molested” by the passengers, while the Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel stood watching.
If that was not enough, the students were thrashed again by local passengers near Kanpur over the same issue on their return journey by the same train on March 30.
The two RPF personnel who were accompanying the students could not be found when the mob attacked the students, according to a complaint lodged with the Lok Sabha Speaker’s secretary.
“I have written to the Lok Sabha Speaker’s secretary and the chief minister,” Law College principal Debasis Chattopadhyay told Metro on Wednesday. “The students were beaten up with belts. Some of the girls were molested. They came back with swollen faces and bruises. I was shocked to see them.”
As the train pulled into Jhajha station on March 25, local passengers started entering the students’ compartment in hordes. “They were enraged when we told them that this was a reserved compartment. Two of them started beating me with their belts when I tried to prevent them from entering the compartment,” recounted Aditya Kumar Dey, one of the students.
“When the other students tried to protect Aditya, the passengers went berserk. They beat up several others of the team and molested some of the girls. We asked the RPF personnel to intervene. He just asked us to keep quiet. We spent a sleepless night on the floor,” said Mohammadi Taranum, one of the two lecturers who accompanied the students.
The lecturers called up their principal on reaching Delhi and told him about the incident. Chattopadhyay then called Speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s office, but could not reach him as he was in Vietnam. “I spoke to his secretary Vivek Kumar,” said Chattopadhyay.
Kumar then wrote to the railway minister’s private secretary R.K. Mahajan (a copy of the letter is with Metro), requesting him to ensure the students’ safe return to Howrah.
Accordingly, two RPF personnel accompanied the group when it boarded the Toofan Express from Agra Fort station on March 30. When the train reached Kanpur, local passengers forced their way into the reserved compartment and beat up the students for protesting.
The teachers lodged a complaint with the station master. The secretary to the Speaker was contacted and an RPF team was deployed.