As I fly back home from a long vacation tomorrow, this one incident mars my memories. Leaving the city of the Taj Mahal, we caught a train to Amritsar from Agra Cantt. At the station there was a huge presence of armed policemen apparently traveling on election duty. We had comfortable 2nd AC reserved seats for the family in blocks of two. My family’s two seats within a coupe also had an old Punjabi couple. They were very friendly and genial. My younger son and I were getting ready to tuck in for the night when a bunch of men just barged into the reserved compartment. Yes, they were UP Policemen, some in uniform and others in plain clothes with rifles slung on their back. They conveniently sat down on any empty berth they saw. The TTE started arguing with a few instructing them to leave the compartment but to no avail. They laughed and stayed put.

The side upper berth from across our coupe was empty. There was a lady sleeping down with her curtain pulled. Quickly 5 of the men climbed up with their feet hanging down and their rifles stacked behind them. The old lady within the coupe, and I got scared. We pulled our dupattas closer and hurriedly pulled our curtain. The curtain was opened many times by them poking their hands and giggling louder. They were speaking in colloquial Hindi and were passing some really lewd comments peppered with abuses. I wanted to click their picture but was scared for the safety of my family. My husband and my elder son had side berths elsewhere. ย There again two men sat down and stayed put even after they lay down to sleep.

Apparently the men had boarded from Ghaziabad and from their conversation I heard that they were going to disembark at Meerut or Saharanpur to reach their election duty destinations. Meerut was still a couple of hours ago. The old couple was a bit scared too. The elderly man assured me not to worry. He was a retired army colonel. He asked me to sleep off while aunty kept an eye on my sleeping son in the lower berth. I had an uneasy time on the upper berth but felt safe as uncle was also on the upper berth — alert and awake. The men meanwhile conversed loudly. They also put on radio and played cheap songs in Bhojpuri while people were trying to sleep. None of us protested. Who protests against policemen in those large numbers with big rifles?

There must have been more than 20 of them in our compartment not requesting to be seated but finding whatever place they could find and making themselves at home caring nothing for our inconvenience. Those couple of hours while they sat across opening the curtains constantly and jeering were horrifying. I don’t know whether election commission or the government is aware of this. Could they have not arranged transport buses or something else for their officers traveling on election duty?

Why were we subject to this kind of misconduct? I wonder if there is someplace I can complain about this. But those hours were sheer misery.

 

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86 Thoughts on “A terrifying incident in the train

  1. Rachna, I can imagine your horror, especially since you were travelling with kids. Thank God you had that nice couple with you and that you were all safe. There has to be a place to complain, but I’m not sure where. These are the kind of policemen we have; now imagine a woman going to them to file a rape complaint. It just gets worse and worse :(.

    • I know Fab! Thank God! They created a nuisance which could have gotten worse. It was at night and even the TTE was helpless. I was imagining the same scenario. Imagine how will such hooligans protect women when they were heckling us and shamelessly jeering us.

  2. That is indeed a horrifying incident. To think how much you went through.
    You can pen down a letter to the Election Commission. Post it to the EC. Ultimately, the UP Police has to take action but it is the EC will make them.
    What a sore thumb in such a wonderful holiday!
    Take care.

    • I think I will do that, Sakshi. Was breaking my head over what we could do in the train. And subsequently we’ve been traveling. But I do wish to lodge a complaint. Thanks!

  3. My God, so scary. Who will protect us when the protectors themselves go berserk.

  4. Shameful. Can i share this blogpost on my FB page Rachna ?

  5. I have heard horror stories of train journeys in UP and Bihar. Thankfully the only journey I undertook – from Chandigarh to Kanpur was uneventful. I am not sure we are living in a country where all the reporting and stuff works. Maybe in South India where people are more civilized, your activism may have yielded results. I doubt if you can do much in the wild Hindi heartland. Being from there, I guess you know better than me who has rarely ventured out of the safety of the South.

  6. I am not sure whether it will help if I complain, but I will try and do it. It is not that unsafe in UP at least. But traveling alone as a woman; I wouldn’t advise it. What surprised me is that the policemen were like this. I guess all the stories we hear about them are not so untrue :/.

  7. This happens in India. Sorry to read it.

  8. Think you should file a complaint…IT’s incidents like this that put our country to shame and despite everything happening all over the country sad to see that the police are still in the same board… Praying for a serious change in our country’s system!

    • The most shocking part was that these were policemen going on election duty. And this is how they move about deriding everything in their way. I know I must. Just did not know how to go about it. I pray with you, Danny.

  9. It’s very terrifying, Rachna and such shameful acts by men in uniform put the entire force and country in shame. laud your courage for writing about it.

  10. What a horrible experience for you and your family. How can ordinary people have any confidence in their keeping polling booths safe? Their own behaviour sounds lawless, intimidating and lewd. To keep opening your curtains – it is like saying we can do anything we please. Wonder what will keep them on the straight and narrow. Sharing on fb, Rachana.

    • Exactly my thoughts, Khoty! They were laughing at our faces showing us that we were at their mercy. What pathetic state of affairs. Of course, they must have known that we can’t do a thing otherwise what else can justify their brazenness. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Unfortunate. But imagine, these hooligans are our protectors and saviors. No wonder women feel insecure. Police reforms, police reforms….sensitization and accountability too.
    I am waiting for you to drop by. It’s five in the evening. Any chance?

  12. I am just glad you are okay. It sounds really horrifying. It is generally not unsafe in UP. Such incidents are not uncommon either but just the fact that these were policemen makes it more horrible. Aren’t they suppose to protect us? Shameful…really shameful! I am glad you are planning to file a complaint Rachna.

    • Sfurti, I am originally from UP but have not been to the state in a while now. I am sure it must not be this unsafe. But like you pointed out, the fact that they were policemen made it much worse. Yes, I am going to write to the EC.

  13. Such a scary incident… What can I say Rachna…I hope you are able to forget it for I don’t know if anyone will do anything about it…When I was studying in Gorakhpur (UP) first few times when I traveled by train it was horrible..It used to pass through Bihar and I cannot even begin to tell you about the kind of men that were on train. But the most uncomfortable journey I was was when the coupe was full of BSF personell…From then I never went by train…It’s horrible…Hope you forget this experience!

    • When I was working in brand management, I had to travel to the field every month for tours. And my office made sure that I never went to UP and Bihar. I can understand why now. Though I belong originally to UP, it has been a while since I traveled there. Not only is the state in bad shape in terms of development but look at the law and order situation. I count my blessings to be living in Bangalore. I now have added fear of uniform to my list of fears :/. Strange that we think that we are safe in a train full of people but we really aren’t.

  14. This is certainly a terrifying experience…I hope you can forget this for I don’t know if anyone will ever do anything for this..

    I myself have had horrible experiences travelling by train from UP to Assam via Bihar while I was student … The worst was when the coupe was full of BSF personell..

    That’s why I stopped travelling by train in that part but then sometimes there is no other option..what can one do then…face such people …suffer even after paying for the tickets and reservation..Sad condition this country is in…

    PS: My comments are getting lost I think..third attempt this ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. THAT’s one of the biggest problems in this country. YOU can have all the strong legislation that you want BUT the people who are to implement them all ARE undependable and, in some cases such as this, the very ones who break those laws.

  16. What a bunch of hooligans! Glad you’re all safe and sound. Yes, You should definitely raise a complaint with the relevant authorities.

  17. Good lord! Just how many things are wrong with this country?
    I hope this ordeal, awful as it was, was at least short. Ghaziabad to Meerut was hopefully a short ride for this obnoxious people.

    • Yes, lucky that they were not traveling till Amritsar. They may have then just uprooted us from our berths, I guess. For the first time I saw how vulgar some Bollywood songs were, and the language they were using — I shudder to think about it. Seriously terrifying and I feel so angry and helpless to have been caught in that situation.

  18. How horrible, ow disgusting. If this is how the people who are supposed to “protect” us behave, god help us !
    I honestly dont know what you could have done about it. Or if anyone will listen in this country of ours !

  19. I had posted a comment and sigh it got lost!
    I seriously think you ought to complaint about this… Shameful even after so much of hype on the media all over the country, its our own police men that still do these kind of things.. Praying seriously for a change in our system!

  20. It really sounds scary! And it’s shameful that policemen behave like goons, reinforcing the policewala-is-a-villain stereotype our movies promote. Shocking!

  21. Very scary. I think you can write to EC. Writing to UP police won’t draw immediate results but with EC, we can still be hopeful.

  22. Felt scary just reading this post, Rachna! Where do we complain about our own policemen? What type of training do they get while joining the force, I wonder!

  23. very terrifying.. AC compartments were used to be considered comparatively safe… God what nuisance these policemen created. such disregard for other people.. Thank god you all are okay…

  24. Gosh that surely was very scary Rachna..thank God you guys are all fine…I got goosebumps just reading it….if this is how the police behave, then what to expect from civilians??

  25. Oh that was scary! I’m so glad you and your family returned safe. And God bless that couple! Please write a complaint to the EC. I think you can even report this to a newspaper.

  26. Yep, I think Soumya is right, you should Report it to a Newspaper.

  27. Horrible. That too when travelling overnight. Sad to see that, those who are supposed to be responsible for protecting the public are resorting to such cheap measures. I’m happy that the police personnel whom I have come across have been really helpful and trustworthy. Hope there is some forum where you can raise this issue.

  28. What can you expect from the police force of a state whose leaders are the most misogynist and make comments like – women who are raped should be hanged with their rapists.

    But thank god for men like that elderly gentleman who made you feel safe.

    • It is very sad to see the state UP is in. Of course, the leaders that they have will take them deep down in the spiral. And the police meant to protect them also believe in throwing their weight around. A really bad experience that was! Yes, thank God for the good folks. Punjab on the other hand is such a lovely, gentle place. People are respectful towards women.

  29. OMG that would have been terrifying to say the least :(. I am glad that elderly couple was with you. I think what Sakshi says might hold good, informing the EC.. at the same time do you think tweeting about it with Election hashtags will help?

  30. ramesh on April 15, 2014 at 12:25 pm said:

    i don’t find anything strange in this issue.educated girls and boys who visit multiplexes in packs too behave same way by chatting loud. indian behavior is same in every aspect of life, people complain only when someone disturbs their comfort zone. you might have argued with police personnel straight away instead of being scared .we should set an example somewhere or at some point of life.you might have felt happy after confronting those guys ,whatever the result may be.watching that,your kids too will grow up more bold. am not saying this theoretically coz i myself deal things that way.there were 20 educated english speaking hooligans who got drunk and were causing nuisance adjacent to my apartment and i did confront 20 people alone .when they din’t listen to me,i called up police control room and police patrol team reached my place in 3 minutes,though they din’t arrest these hooligans,police abused nuisance creating people and they left them with a warning after taking 15000 rupees bribe.those hooligans never came back.its very rare that police will act on police unless you deal with them at highest level like police commissioner and you won’t get any guarantee of action being taken coz our country don’t have required number of police and police personnel are overburdened duty to lack of funds to recruit enough police.its very rare for someone to take action on over burdened personnel.

    • ramesh on April 15, 2014 at 12:29 pm said:

      typo err:police personnel are over burdened with duty due to lack of funds to recruit enough police.

    • There is a difference in this incident as compared to what you’ve written. These are themselves police officers traveling with rifles in large groups, drunk on power in a moving train at night. Clearly, they thought that they could do anything they wanted. Once they broke the law by barging into a reserved compartment where they had no business to be in what was stopping them from extending their misbehavior? That is the part that scared us the most. As I mentioned in the post, the TTE already had argued with them and had asked them to leave but to no avail. What makes you think that they would have listened to me with their heads bowed? Escalating the situation then would have worsened the consequences.

      • ramesh on April 16, 2014 at 11:30 am said:

        there is difference between an official like tte arguing and a passenger confronting. tte is not going to stay in your coach for long time and he is not the one who will face nuisance .people psychology is like”when the affected speaks,it has different effect on guys who are disturbing you compared to official like tte.” . if things get worsened,all the police personnel will get suspended coz it will become an issue in media.there is a proverb in telugu” if yam/suran don’t feel the itching, why would boti will feel”

  31. This is shocking and glad you and your family are safe!

  32. spunkybong on April 16, 2014 at 1:48 am said:

    Aghast reading this, Rachna. Thank God you are safe. I find Mr Ramesh’s comment a bit presumptive, to say the least. If he wants to be a hero, he can go ahead and be one. You, a woman, fighting with an insolent half-literate angutha chhap armed constable inside a moving train? A very bad idea it would be indeed. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, Achyut! Yes, it was a terrible ordeal much more than words can ever indicate. Thank you for reading with empathy. I completely agree with your analysis. Confronting them would have been a very bad idea indeed!

    • hmm bong,stay silent all your life and when something like nirbhaya happens,just sit around to light candles.i dunno when men and women of this country are going to raise their voice or going to behave like an educated.so a person who speaks against wrong things is a hero according to your definition.so every citizen will wait until a hero comes to their rescue.its indian mentality believing in one man show all their life,they never believe in unity or team work.why to mention gender “woman”,so you think woman can’t fight a wrong doing man?to be frank,i don’t like indians,they are just educated illiterates who have zero intellect or rational approach towards life.

      • I am sorry, Ramesh, but I don’t like your tone and language. Put your point across politely, but you will not talk in a derogatory manner on my blog. You don’t like Indians? You consider us illiterates because some of us don’t agree with your view. Next time you use such language, I will block you.
        Rachna recently posted…A foodie vacation!My Profile

  33. Glad you didn’t react and give them a piece of your mind.,,,and you reached home safe…it is easy to fight thieves looks like than fighting police in our country…don’t know when things will change ๐Ÿ™
    latha recently posted…N for Names!!!My Profile

  34. So outrageous!! I can well understand how helpless and scared you must have been. So glad you all are all right!
    Roshni recently posted…Weird Words beginning with OMy Profile

  35. I can understand how scary you might be feeling! During my student life and initial years of job, I have undertaken many train journeys alone and have concluded that you feel absolutely safe until unless policemen or army personnel in large number enter your bogey! On one such journey,I was allotted side-birth and was repeatedly disturbed by BSF jawans who were roaming around my berth, talking loudly and staring continuously. I was lucky as a family inside coupe agreed to my request for exchange of berth. They took revenge by stealing one of my sandles which I kept under the berth during the night. In the morning, when I was searching being helped by the kind family, I got to know through the wicked smiles of these goons in uniform, who the culprits were! I simply took out my slippers from my bag and wore them. There was nothing else I could do! As they say “jab rakshak hi bhakshak ban jaye to kaun bacha sakata hai?”

    • Ugh, so it seems that when the men in uniform travel in numbers, they are more than likely to misbehave with women. I agree with your last words. It was so terrifying, the way it unfolded at night and all their lewd remarks and opening of curtain. Gives me the shivers. Thanks for reading, Ratna.

  36. I certainly hope you lodged a complaint, Rachna! Nobody should have to go through this. This is shameful and absolutely unacceptable behaviour!

  37. I hate to say this,but,that is the real Police we have and i shows the Governance of UP state Govt

  38. Pingback: Foodie vacation culminates in Amritsar | Rachna Says

  39. Unfortunately the situation is bad these days. This also reflects the overall degeneration of the society. The lack of moral values gets reflected in the quality of intake into the police force. At the minimum one should complain by email/fax to the CM, Chief secretary, railway minister and home minister.

    In such situations don’t click image. Just stealthily hold the camera and switch on the video. If you don’t move your hand they will not notice. A few seconds of footage will nail those fellows. But be careful in future.
    Sabyasachi Patra recently posted…IndiaWilds Newsletter Vol. 6 Issue VIIMy Profile

    • I did write a few letters though I did not get a single reply. Yes, you are right. This reflects on the overall degeneration of Indian society.

      To tell you the truth, I was really frightened. I think they were just a step away from disaster. I actually froze and did not think clearly. Perhaps I should practice the switching on the video mode just in case I need to use it under stress situations. I will be careful! Thanks!

  40. Pingback: Rachna says - 2014 a recap - Rachna Says

  41. Chhaya on July 31, 2018 at 7:25 am said:

    You can make essay more interesting so people would love to read it

  42. When read this I was felling very horrifying as I don’t know this also happen in India. I was not in India for at least 5 yrs and now I have read this. I am felling very sorry for India

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