“It’s like Soumya episode all over again,” is what a passenger said when they heard about a man thrown out of a moving train when he reportedly tried to prevent the molestation of a female co-passenger.
The 28-year-old man travelling by Malabar Express on Wednesday evening was found beside the railway tracks at Cheruthuruthy.
According to his statement, he had tried to prevent four drunk men from molesting a woman co-passenger. He fell out of the train during the ensuing scuffle, he said.
Both his arms were crushed under the train’s wheels and he suffered several other injuries.
Mystery shrouds the incident as the police are yet to find witnesses to corroborate the man’s story.
Women railway passengers, however, were reminded of Soumya, the 23-year-old woman who was thrown off a moving train and raped near the same spot over two years ago.
Amid public outrage, police and other agencies promised to take steps to ensure better safety for women. The situation, however, remains much the same. Trains plying over short distances at night empty out towards the end of their trips, leaving lone women passengers vulnerable.
Like Soumya, Vidya is a young woman working in the city. She makes frequent train journeys to go home to Kollam, mostly on her own. She says experience has taught her to develop certain methods to stay safe when she travels alone at night.
“I find some aged or woman passenger who is travelling farther than I am. Even if I don’t talk to them, I stay close to them throughout the journey so I don’t look like I’m alone,” she said.
Police said they were doing everything they can to protect women passengers. “We are always patrolling trains and railway stations at night. Women police officers also make the rounds with us,” said a railway police officer in Kochi.
Women travelling in overnight trains said they felt safe as police officers were often seen making rounds at night. Over short-distances, their presence is yet to be felt.
Sherly, a working woman travelling to Kochi from Alappuzha every day, said she has never had a bad experience in a train. “We prefer trains because buses are unsafe. But we keep hearing of cases like Soumya’s . It could still happen to anyone,” she said.