Group of men assault schoolgirls and three teachers on way from Patna
A group of 93 schoolgirls were reportedly molested and sexually harassed by a gang of men while travelling on a train in Bihar on Sunday.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has asked authorities to initiate action against the suspects.
The pupils, accompanied by three women teachers, from Carmel School in Dhanbad and Digwadih, were returning home on the express train, which they had boarded at Patna railway junction late on Saturday night.
They had been in Patna to participate in a two-day environment conference and were returning home when the incident occurred.
According to the victims’ account, the horror began soon after they boarded the Ganga-Damodar express at the Patna junction. The group had made reservations in the S-1 and B-1 sections of the train but, much to their surprise, they found their seats occupied by a large group of men who claimed to be participants of a railway recruitment examination.
Reports said the men passed lewd remarks and refused to vacate the seats despite repeated requests by the girls and their teachers, as police officers just looked on.
Eventually, the students asked the group to spare only 10 of their total 93 reserved seats, a request which was again refused.
The men also allegedly misbehaved and assaulted the women teachers who had protested against their lewd comments.
The teachers then took the girls to another part of the train. However the suspects allegedly followed them there too and continued harassing them.
The ordeal lasted until the alleged tormenters got off the train at the Koderma railway station in Jharkhand, four hours later.
Throughout this time, the girls had remained standing despite having reserved seats.
Witnesses said the girls were weeping bitterly when their parents received them at Dhanbad station the next morning.
“It was a nightmare. I don’t want to travel by train anymore,” a grade 9 girl told the local media Monday. “We travelled the whole way standing and huddled together in queues as the men kept on pulling us.”
The pupil said the men had grabbed their seats and assaulted even their teachers when they protested.
Meanwhile, the Bihar chief minister said he had asked the additional director-general, railways, to take legal action against the suspects.
“I have asked the ADG railway to initiate immediate action against the culprits and also fix responsibility as to who was responsible for this shocking incident,” Kumar told the media Monday while releasing his government’s annual report card after completing its eighth year in power.