Harassed at the Patna railway station, teachers who accompanied 96 schoolgirls from Carmel School, Dhanbad and Digwadih on a two-day educational tour said they were reluctant to take students on educational tours in the future after officials failed to provide them security.
Four Railway Police Force constables and an assistant sub-inspector in Patna were suspended on Monday after the school principal faxed a complaint to Patna. A railway TTE in Dhanbad was suspended as well.
On November 23 midnight, 34 schoolgirls from the Carmel School, Dhanbad were unable to board the coach in which they had reserved seats as they were occupied by examinees travelling to Jharkhand for the Group ‘D’ railway recruitment exam.
“The train was delayed by over an hour and reached the station at 11.30 p.m. For 45 minutes, while the train was on the platform, we tried to enter the train but the men blocked the doors. Some argued with us, others laughed and jeered at us and the girls were scared. I approached two railway police constables but both of them moved away and one said you should enter at your own risk,” said Darleen Rydqvist, a teacher.
“They did not provide any help even when they could see the children were in school uniform.”
The girls and their teachers then rushed to the B1 ACIII tier coach where 62 schoolgirls from the Digwadih Carmel School had reserved berths.
The 103-member school contingent, returning from an environment studies tour to Dighaghat, was forced to share the seats for the rest of the journey.
The teachers said the schoolgirls did not face sexual harassment. “We did not hear any lewd remarks or see any instance of sexual harassment against the students and we did not include this in the complaint,” said teacher Sonali Singh.
“The coaches must have been crowded, such instances are routine. What can we do about the boys? District Railway Manager Danapur already did a preliminary enquiry,” said RPF Senior Commandant (Dhanbad) Hiramani Tiwari.
The Railway police in Patna said that from the complaint details no criminal case could be made out and thus there were no grounds for an FIR. “There is no mention of sexual harassment or physical attack. The complaint says that it was the rush of passengers and not the railway recruitment examinees that prevented them from accessing their reserved berths. It also states that there was no fight,” said Railway Superintendent of Police (Patna) Upendra Kumar Sinha.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said he had spoken to the Additional Director General (Railways) and asked him to take action.