Train Molester Arrested - Thanks to Social Media and Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu
A student who was allegedly molested on a Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express posted her account on Facebook, which a friend tweeted to railways minister Suresh Prabhu, triggering a chain of events that led to the arrest of the accused from the train within hours.
Bani Prasad Mohanty, a 49-year-old senior laboratory assistant working with the Odisha government, was arrested around 4 yesterday afternoon when the train reached Tatanagar station in Jharkhand.
The 19-year-old Bhubaneswar girl who studies in Delhi's Ramjas College was travelling in the same compartment with Mohanty. Both had boarded the train from the Odisha capital at 9.15am.
The girl, who was unwell, had gone to sleep in her upper berth when Mohanty allegedly touched her inappropriately. When she shouted, the government employee ran into the washroom. The girl, who was initially confused and scared, did not report the matter but mustered the courage to confront the man when he came back and sat in front of her.
The man denied the allegation but owned up when the girl "screamed". At 1.40pm, the girl put up the Facebook post.
The post read: "I decided to go and sleep in the upper berth as I was extremely tired and down with sore throat and sneezing. I fell asleep within some 10-20 mins wrapped in my bed sheet. I was enjoying the journey when suddenly I find someone's hand on my chest. The man started walking towards the washroom in a bid to run away after grabbing me."
The girl wrote that her father had called her up immediately after the incident and asked her if she was "enjoying the journey" and if the people in the compartment "are good".
"Not wanting to bother him with this I ended up saying that everything was fine and sat there clueless for the next few minutes. About 15 minutes later, I saw the TTE in our compartment. I thought of telling him about the incident but couldn't gather enough courage," she wrote.
"Suddenly, something inside me didn't succumb to the situation I was in," the girl wrote.
"I was startled by what he did to me! I wanted to ask him what made him do so. I wanted to tell others that the man who tried touching me could do the same to them as well. I... asked him if he had tried molesting me while I was asleep and the reply was a 'No' ( as expected ) when I could clearly see how nervous he was and his body language said it all.
"I screamed at him at the top of my voice till he said that he was the one who tried molesting me. I could see how embarrassed he was to be insulted before 10 other men and 5 more women," the girl wrote.
Unknown to the girl and Mohanty, the post was shared by several of her friends on Facebook and one of them put it on the Twitter handle of railway minister Prabhu.
The minister promptly asked the authorities concerned, including the East Coast Railway, to take action.
By 2pm, when the train had crossed Kharagpur station, senior security commissioner of Kharagpur division Maheshwar Singh called up the Railway Protection Force (RPF) officer-in-charge in Tatanagar, N.K. Singh. The train escort party was also alerted.
Singh called up Government Railway Police (GRP) officer-in-charge Pradeep Chaudhury. When the train reached Tatanagar around 4pm yesterday, Mohanty was arrested by the GRP on the basis of a complaint the girl had written on a piece of paper she had taken from the train superintendent.
Mohanty was taken to Bhadrak in Odisha by a team of GRP and RPF officers on the Puri-bound Purushottam Express last night and handed over to the GRP.
J.P. Mishra, the chief public relations officer of the East Coast Railway, said: "The train had crossed Kharagpur when we got the information. So we had to keep in touch with railway officials in Tatanagar, where the accused was de-boarded. The girl was provided full security till she got off the train."