Train plight - Insecurity amidst security

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Letter to Editor

On 07-01-2015 my family, all females, and 3 kids boarded a train (Number 12516) from Guwahati which left at 6:30 am heading to Chennai. On reaching Kuch Bihar a mob without tickets boarded the train and immediately started bossing everyone around, forcefully occupying other passengers' seats, pushing them out of their seats, using foul languages. My wife and her six year old kid faced the same trauma. The Traveling Ticket Examiner instead of confronting them - ran away. The Police vanished - probably too scared, and they are supposed to be protectors of society. What's more, these rowdies looking at my family started questioning among themselves - "Who are these people, they don't look like Indians, I think they are Nepalese, Nepalese aren't Indians, they should be thrown out of the train". My wife speaks hindi. I can imagine how frightened she must have been. Just because these hooligans are ignorant, we were turned outsiders in our own country. My wife called me at 5pm and told me about what happened, I could hear my son crying in the background - "Mei why don't you call the Police?". Police? The police are hiding in the toilet and I am here in Shillong , what could i do? Immediately, I dailed the so called 24x7 railway helpline number 011-23340000 that was on the ticket when printed, since I booked the tickets online. The number was out of service, just my luck. I tried another number 011-39340000 - also a 24x7 railway helpline number. I was greeted by a female voice in the form of an IVR telling me to hold on, then some sweet music came on, and finally when the music was all played out, it rang. After a while a male voice answered - the whole waiting process was more than 5 minutes. The guy online sounded as if he was not in the mood to speak to anyone. I told him about my plight and he gave me another number - a helpline number/complaint number 1800112511. I called the number, the phone rang, and rang, but there was no response . I tried many times but to no avail. I posted my complaint on my facebook page hoping for someone to help me out. A friend advised me to call the NE Railway AGM, number 0361-2676002. I did, but there was no answer. He then advised me to call the number 1322 - Indian railway helpline for ladies, action will be taken in the next station. I tried calling that number, the phone rang, but again, no answer. By God’s grace my family was okay, they got down at Howrah station and stayed in Kolkata and booked a flight. My son and the other kids were scared, really scared. What's more, he believed in the Police since he saw on TV that the Police always does good things. Now he will believe he is disillusioned. Where was the TT ? where was the Indian Railway Police Force? Aren't they supposed to protect the genuine passengers? What about the helpline numbers? Aren't they supposed to work? Shouldn't the employees in the call center supposed to pick up the call in the 1st ring or 2nd ring? I know that people who have travelled by train will say that this is normal. Should these incidents be treated as normal? Then we won't need the service of the TT and the Indian Railway Police Force, do we? A few weeks back a train was robbed in Bihar and as per reports, the passengers says that the Police Force instead of protecting the passengers - vanished. A police Force that holds guns but at the same time disappears in thin air at the first sight of trouble. I don't have a grudge against anyone here, but what if my family had been harmed, who will take responsibility? I would feel that the onus would lie on the hands of those people who had pledged to protect us. If you are too scared to do it, step down, find another job. Meghalaya has recently been in the news for having two outstanding journalists who were recently given National Awards. I pray that kindly do something about this. I know it's an uphill task because the Railway authority is not interested in doing anything. And when incidents like this happen it's always us the North Easterners who are targeted, because we look different, our features are different. I have faith that your voices will be heard. Moreover you were recognised for your hardwork and perseverance. What if my son grows up with the feeling that " I will shoh dkhar", because once upon a time he was traumatised by these same dkhars? It's a tough choice, a tough feeling since for quite a while, before I was married I had been roommates with Biharis, Nepalese, Bengalees, Brahmins and my children call them Uncles.


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