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Woman slapped over window seat on Mumbai train; RPF turns a deaf ear

Seeing Preeta Saji occupy a prized window seat at Ambernath, another passenger slapped her and tried to force her off the train; after her husband’s calls to RPF fell on deaf ears, thecouple approached the GRP, who were also of no help... meanwhile, the offender alighted and walked away

A fight over a window seat in a local train took an ugly turn last morning, when an Ambernath-based woman tried to force a Vithalwadi resident out of a compartment of a CST-bound train, and then slapped her. No action was taken in the matter, with the Railway Protection Force (RPF) turning a blind eye to the woman’s complaints.

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
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

Preeta Saji was waiting for a train at Vithalwadi station on her way to work in CST last morning. When two successive trains were cancelled around 8. 30 am, the 30-year-old accountant decided to board a train in the opposite direction to Ambernath, so she would get a place to sit once it emptied out at Ambernath and started its journey towards CST. Minutes later, she would regret this decision.

Saji usually boards the first class ladies’ compartment, but yesterday, only managed to board a second-class coach. Recounting her ordeal, she said, “As the train reached Ambernath, I sat on 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 me to get off at Kalyan.

When I refused to get down, the lady yanked at my bag and tried to throw it out of the train. I got up immediately, to protect my bag, as it had several important belongings. While trying to retrieve my bag, I accidentally grazed her shoulder. In retaliation, the woman slapped me.”

While the skirmish swiftly escalated into a brawl, not a single fellow passenger on the train came forward to intervene. Outraged by the physical assault, Saji told the woman she had no right to threaten her or hit her. Undaunted, the woman challenged Saji to lodge a complaint against her.

Aghast, Saji called her husband, K S Saji, who was travelling in a general compartment on the same train. The two decided to get down at Kalyan and meet. While her husband managed to alight, the crowds prevented Saji from getting off at Kalyan. Knowing what had happened, he went to stationmaster’s office at Kalyan and asked for his help. The stationmaster asked him to call the RPF helpline, 1275.

The RPF officials were reluctant to help the couple. Saji explained, “My husband informed me that he had narrated the entire incident to the RPF, and that they had said they would get in touch with me and nab the woman. I kept waiting for some action, but nothing happened at all. Meanwhile, the accused alighted from the train at Ghatkopar and walked away.”

Saji’s husband boarded the next train to CST. Both then went to the Government Railway Police (GRP) office at CST to lodge a complaint, but were told that they should go lodge their complaint at the RPF office.

Saji’s husband said, “Nobody came to her help, even after we made so many efforts to lodge complaints. Is this how our railway authorities work? If something major would have happened, would they have acted in the same way?”

Official speak
Alok Bohra, senior divisional security commissioner, Central Railway, told mid-day, “If it is a case of a fight in the train, then the victim should complain to the GRP immediately.

If they have complained to the RPF, the complaint will be transferred to the GRP for further investigations.” A GRP official from CST station said, “We did not receive any intimation of such an incident. If we had come to know about it, we would have definitely taken immediate action.”

Helpline numbers
>> GRP: 9833331111
>> RPF: 1275
>> For women: 1311

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