Despite mounting pressure to ensure safer commute for women passengers on suburban trains, the railways appear to be struggling to contain attacks on them.
The latest such incident occurred on Sunday early evening, when a 23-year-old woman was assaulted and robbed at knifepoint between Masjid Bunder station and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST).
The safety of women commuters is under the Bombay high court’s scanner since July when it took suo motu cognisance of a Hindustan Times report on the molestation of a 25-year-old aboard a Vashi local.
According to the police, Priyanka Kumar, a Colaba resident, boarded the women’s compartment from Matunga station to go to CST after finishing lectures at Wellingkar Ïnstitute of Management where she is pursuing a part-time course in marketing management, and fell asleep along the way.
The accused got into the compartment at around 5.50pm when the train halted at Masjid Bunder station, where all the other women commuters alighted. After it started moving, he woke Kumar and demanded that she hand over cash and valuables.
When she resisted and punched him in the face, the robber attacked her with a blade, injuring her on both hands. He then snatched her mobile phone and jumped off the moving train.
On alighting, Kumar approached the CST railway police, who registered a case of robbery. She was taken to St. George Hospital, where she was given medical aid and discharged.
The railway police are probing the case from various angles. "Based on the description given by the victim, we have prepared a sketch of the accused," said Prabhat Kumar, commissioner of police (railways). The police will also check the CCTV footage at Masjid Bunder station for images of the accused.