Patna, Jan. 18: Tata Steel employee Jitendra Mohan Sinha and his family got a taste of the harrowing ride that is Bihar when they were robbed of their suitcases ' containing jewellery for a wedding ' on a moving train early in the morning and then made to wait three hours by police who allegedly pinned the blame on him for sleeping.
Jamshedpur resident Sinha, 50, was travelling with wife Neeta and daughter Prachi in an AC-2 coach of the South Bihar Express, which passes through the robbery-prone belt stretching from Kiul to Patna.
Sinha, in his complaint lodged with the Government Railway Police (GRP) at Patna Junction, said he was robbed of two suitcases containing jewellery and other valuables from B1 coach between Mokama and Patna Sahib railway stations this morning. The family members, who were asleep, noticed the missing luggage only when they awoke around 7am and were getting ready to get down at Patna Junction, where the train ' which was running on time ' reaches at 7.10am.
Sinha immediately headed to the GRP post at the station to report the theft, but he was in for a shock. "The officials at the Patna GRP first rebuked us for not being cautious while travelling by train and then made us wait for over three hours just to lodge a formal complaint," Sinha told The Telegraph.
The family is in Patna to attend a wedding and therefore was travelling with jewellery and ornaments. "You can well imagine the plight of a family which has virtually been left with no clothes to wear in the winter. The condition of my wife is more pitiable. She has lost all the ornaments except the ones she was wearing," Sinha, whose relatives live in Kankerbagh, said.
Sinha said the GRP officials treated him as if he was the culprit. The officials, he said, first sought to know why he did not report the incident to Patna Sahib GRP and then tried to dissuade him from lodging a complaint. "The area does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Patna GRP," Sinha quoted one of the policemen as telling him.
His ordeal didn't end there. Sinha was then given a sermon by the GRP on why it is prudent to stay awake on a train during its journey from Mokama to Patna Sahib, considered to be a happy hunting ground for luggage-lifters. "Despite that, all of you slept on the moving train," Sinha said, quoting another GRP personnel who admonished him. The policemen, Sinha alleged, got angry when he told them that he didn't see any member of the patrolling team in the AC compartment when the train was passing through the danger zone.
Sinha said he did not sleep till the train passed Kiul, considered dangerous for passengers. The train reached Kiul around 4.10 in the morning. "Everything was fine till the train arrived at Kiul station. I am surprised how all of us suddenly fell asleep. I fear the luggage-lifters may have used a spray containing intoxicants. When we woke up, the train was approaching Patna Sahib," he said. The train's scheduled arrival time at Patna Sahib is 6.23am.
Sinha said another passenger travelling in the same coach was relieved of a suitcase. The passenger, Umesh Kumar Sinha, also reported the matter to the Patna GRP.
Acting station house officer of Patna GRP, Chandrashekhar Patro, said the complaint has been registered and subsequently referred to the Patna Sahib GRP for necessary action. "The victims have blamed the coach attendant for the incident," he said.
As regards the inordinate delay in lodging the complaint, Patro said: "The station house officer is currently on leave. It took time to decide whether to lodge a complaint at Patna GRP or send the victim to Patna Sahib GRP. Finally we decided to lodge the complaint at Patna GRP and then refer it to our counterparts in Patna City," he said.
Sinha wondered how passengers could trust the railways if they could not ensure security.
"People pay more and travel in AC coaches because they are supposed to be secure. If AC coaches too are not safe, then there is no point paying more to the railways," he said.
Train travel in Bihar has become hazardous following a series of unsavoury incidents. Last year, Assam youth Pritam Bhattacharjee was found dead near Naugachia after he was harassed by a bunch of youths who were apparently after his laptop. His killers are yet to be apprehended.
Recently, a woman from Darjeeling in the north Bengal hills leaped from a running train near Ara when she was molested by two persons.