Railway minister Dinesh Trivedi might have won accolades by making safety a priority in the railway budget. But in a remote corner of Bengal, his assurances seem to have come a bit late.
On Wednesday, as Trivedi was presenting his budget in Parliament, a 30-year-old woman from Burdwan’s Ambal village was at the Katwa jail, identifying a gang of train robbers who had raped her.
On February 25, the woman was dragged down from a train and raped when she resisted the robbers. Her 11-year-old daughter, who was accompanying her, was held at gunpoint.
“It is easy to speak of safety sitting in an air-conditioned room surrounded by armed guards,” the woman said. “Let the minister come to a remote village like Ambal and board a train in the evening. He would understand what passengers go through.”
Since the incident, the women in the family have not left home after sundown. The young girls have stopped going to school. And train travel is out of the question.
“Forget the safety aspect, ministers should first learn to be sensitive to citizens who have voted them to power,” she said.
The allusion was to West Bengal CM and Trivedi’s party chief Mamata Banerjee, who had claimed there had been no rape and the victim had lodged a fake complaint.
Asked whether they had watched the railway budget on television, the woman smiled. “Our chores are more important, we are not interested in promises any more,” she said.