A real life experience as narrated by a CFS reader:
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"As the 15610 Awadh Assam Express, going to Guwahati, slowly chugged out of the crowded Chhapra station, a group of four tall salwar kameez clad men barged into my non air conditioned First Class compartment (Those days, we still had non AC First class coaches).
The four men, equipped with large rifles, which looked like old fashioned 303 guns, made themselves comfortable in the coupe, which till now, had only three passengers including me. They did not seem too perturbed about the fact, that they were actually intruding into the privacy of passengers who had lawfully booked those seats.
Sporting huge moustaches, with large chequered handkerchiefs around their necks, the four men were also accompanied by a little girl, who seemed too nervous or scared to even speak.
My co-passenger, one Mr. Pandeyji, who had boarded the train with his wife, from Gorakhpur junction, the previous night, though, did not take this intrusion, too lightly. He promptly asked one of the men, whether they had valid reservations. The man, stared at Pandeyji for a while and then replied, 'Hum Staff hain (We are Railway employees)'.
Obviously dissatisfied with the reply, Pandeyji decided to take up the matter with the TTE, who, incidentally, had occupied one of the vacant adjacent coupes. A few minutes later Pandeyji returned with a triumphant smile, accompanied by a burly old man in black coat, the TTE.
The TTE, a regular on the train, seemed to immediately recognize our new co-passengers. Very politely, rather uncharacteristic for the officials of his tribe, he asked the four men for tickets. One of the men again repeated the same statement, 'Hum Staff hain (We are Railway employees)'. This time, another man added sternly, 'Aapko kaono aapatti hain ka? (Do you have any objection to us sitting here?)'
The TTE quickly responded, 'Nahin, lekin kisi ko aapatti nahin honi chaiye (No, but others should not have any objection)'. In the flash of a second, the TTE had vanished from the scene. Pandeji’s victorious smile was also history now. However, he was a teacher in a school in Arunachal Pradesh and was not not going to tolerate this ‘injustice’. He left the coupe again too look for the GRP personnel, in charge of the train.
After about half an hour, he returned, with the information that the TTE or the GRP men were nowhere to be seen anywhere in the train. One of the four men, took control of his gun, and strategically placed it near the window by which, Pandeyji’s wife was sitting. Already scared by the chivalry shown by her husband, Mrs. Pandey screamed loudly as if the gun had fired a bullet through her. The owner of the gun immediately said, 'abhi tak goli nahin na mare hain, aap kahe ghabra rahe hain? (I have not yet fired. Why are you so nervous? )'
Fortunately, to our relief, the gang got down from the train at Hajipur after a journey of about an hour and a half.
During this whole episode, I remained a mute spectator, not because I was scared of the four men but because my previous experiences of traveling by this train had taught me that protesting against such intrusions was a futile exercise.
This incident happened seven years ago, when the group of men illegally holding guns, terrorized commoners like us on the Awadh Assam Express. Probably, a vocal protest from myself and Pandeyji, would have caused us much greater harm,
However, Silchar’s Pritam Bhattacharjee was more idealistic and honest in his approach. He believed that injustice, in any form, had to be protested. The train was the same, the state through which, it was passing was the same as well. However, I have lived on to tell this tale because I kept quiet, while he had to lose his life to some hooligans because he raised his voice and gave the criminals a gallant chase.
The extremely unfortunate incident of the passing away of Pritam poses very serious questions about the safety of passengers passing through Bihar. All of us have innumerable experiences of losing our seats to unauthorized occupants while traveling though this state. But should we take this practice as the part of the culture of Bihar or force the government to take concrete measures.
How can the Indian Railways remain silent on the issue of the safety of its passengers. Why cant they provide a greater security cover to the trains passing through Bihar when such incidents repeat themselves every few days?
We should not let this matter die a natural death. Constant pressure has to be mounted on the Bihar government to ensure that the criminals responsible for this ghastly act are brought to task. If that does not happen, then it will be proved that, all the news about the renaissance in Bihar under Nitish Kumar are mere public relation gimmicks."
* CFS Team condemns the brutal murder of Pritam Bhattacharjee, and prays for this departed soul. We also understand that no words of solidarity would be enough to console his bereaved family or make up this huge loss… however, we do stand beside his family and friends, and appeal for justice.