Yesterday, this paper ran a front page report about a fight over a window seat in a local train, when an Ambernath-based woman tried to force a Vithalwadi resident out of a compartment of a CST-bound train, and then slapped her. The report stated that commuter Preeta Saji usually boards a train to CST from Vithalwadi; after two trains were cancelled, she decided to go in the opposite direction to Ambernath, hoping that once the passengers got off the train, she could travel comfortably to CST. Saji was in the second-class coach and as the train reached Ambernath, she occupied one of the window seats in the train. A lady boarded the train at Ambernath station, and seeing a new face sitting on a window seat, asked her to get off at Kalyan. When Saji refused, a physical altercation ensued with Saji being slapped as she tried to get back her bag which was yanked from her. No other passenger intervened and finally, her attacker dared Saji to file a complaint.
This is an incident of train terrorism. Unfortunately, bullying is rife in local trains. Some regular commuters turn bullies, harassing and intimidating the not so regular commuters into giving up choice seats, forcing them to get off trains through verbal threats and sometimes even use physical force, filthy abuse and threats of retaliation in case they complain.
Sometimes, commuters have made a group which operates like a gang of goons, using numbers to harass people and ‘reserve’ seats from themselves. Most commuters are scared to fight back or are wary because the bulllies are regular travellers and may target them in an act of vengeance.
Complaints too are not easy to lodge and commuters may be bounced off one place to another as they try to file a complaint. Booking the attackers without solid evidence and other people scared to act as witness is easier said than done. There are pockets of mini mafioso commuting like dons. It is vital to catch them in the act. The police need to come down hard on them, stop the intimidation, threats, violence and abuse now.