Alleged misbehaviour with woman aboard train

At a time when attacks on women on trains are on the rise, an incident in which two travelling ticket examiners (TTEs) misbehaved with a woman who was travelling in a first class coach of the Thiruvananthapuram-Chennai Superfast Express has drawn widespread flak.

Brinda Karat, Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India(Marxist), told The Hindu over telephone that the incident was shocking. “Both the TTEs involved in the incident should be thrown out of Railways,” she said.

Suspension, a ruse

Ms. Karatsaid suspending the TTEs could be a ruse to reinstate them when the issue died down. They obviously had no place in Railways again. She demanded that the TTEs be arrested and a criminal case charged against them as per law.

The victim who was traumatised following the harassment, which allegedly included verbal outbursts with sexual overtones, has been hospitalised. A poet and a research officer with the Planning Board, she was a regular in the first class coach of the train. Married, she lived in Kollam.

She complained that she was travelling with a first class season ticket and the required supplementary ticket from Thiruvananthapuram to Kollam. The TTEs had been making advances to her regularly but she ignored them. On Friday, they invited her to a vacant cabin of an air-conditioned coach and when she refused, they began abusing her. She informed her husband about the misbehaviour over the phone, and when he received her at the Kollam station, he too was abused by the two TTEs.

The couple then lodged a complaint with the railway authorities at Kollam. Congress leader V.M. Sudheeran who was at the station also intervened and complained to the divisional railway authorities in Thiruvananthapuram. On Saturday, the two TTEs were placed under suspension pending a departmental inquiry.

K.K. Shylaja, secretary of the State unit of the AIDWA, said stringent action should be initiated against the two TTEs since they failed in their duty. Suspension was not enough of a disciplinary action for such a serious crime. She called for the registration of a criminal case against the two TTEs.

‘Anti-women approach'

Bindu Krishna, State president of the Kerala Mahila Congress, said the two TTEs should be terminated from service. Railways seemed to be pursuing an anti-women approach, she alleged.

Kollam Mayor Prasanna Earnest praised the victim for speaking out against the harassment. She called for strong action against the TTEs involved in the incident. Suspension from service was often a cosmetic exercise, she said.

K.N. Balagopal, MP, demanded that the TTEs be terminated from service. The Railway police should register a criminal case against the TTEs and arrest them. N. Chandralal, division secretary of the Southern Railway Employees Sangh, said his organisation condemned the two TTEs. They were duty-bound to protect not only women passengers but all the people on trains. If the two were found guilty by a departmental inquiry, stern action should be initiated against them, he said.