I had heard that travelling in trains by night is getting risky, but I didn't really believe it - until I had a bad experience last Wednesday.
I boarded the first class ladies' compartment of a Panvel-bound train at 10.12pm from Sewri station and sat near the window. At Wadala, another woman boarded the compartment.
There were just the two of us until the train pulled into Chembur, when three teenaged boys - between 15and 17 years of age - seemingly under the influence of drugs entered the compartment.
It was around 10.30pm, and there was no police official in the compartment.
While two of the boys were sniffing a cloth ball continuously, the third teenager kept staring at us.
I started feeling insecure and asked the boys to get down at the next station. They were reluctant, but when I insisted, they got off at Govandi.
However, another boy - not more than 10 years old - boarded the train at Govandi. When I asked him to get down, he got abusive and spat on me as he jumped out of the moving train.
That was not the end. The three teenagers, who had earlier been in the compartment, were now in the adjacent general compartment and kept staring at me.
At Mankhurd, they got off the train, came up to my window and started threatening me and making lewd and abusive remarks.
Meanwhile, I had already called the RPF women's helpline, 1275, which was of no help as the attendant asked me to call the GRP number, 9833331111, saying that 1275 was at the control room in CST.
When I called the GRP helpline, I was simply asked to register a complaint at Vashi railway station, which I have done.
The police noted down the description of the accused, the station, my contact number, among other things, and said they would call back to inform me about any developments. After two days, I got a call from the police for more details about the location and timing of the incident.
This is not the first time that I have found the helpline pointless. Around two months ago, a drunkard got into the ladies' first class at Kurla station. When I called the GRP helpline, the attendant asked me to travel in the general first class compartment.