Expressing her gratitude to the Indian Railways for offering her a job, 23-year-old Arunima Sinha, who lost her one of her legs after she was thrown off a train on the outskirts of Barielly in Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday, said that she wants her attackers to be punished for the heinous act.
An athlete and a keen volley-ball player, Arunima was pushed off the general compartment of Padmawati Express for resisting a chain-snatching attempt by some hoodlums, while travelling from Lucknow to Delhi in the early hours of Tuesday. Her left leg was crushed by the wheels of another train passing on the parallel rail track.
Railway policemen took her to the local district hospital where she lay injured , traumatised and unconscious until Wednesday morning, when she narrated her tale of woe.
"While I am extremely grateful to the railway ministry for showing such a humane gesture, I would still like to pursue my war against the injustice meted out to me by a group of vandals," she told reporters in the local district hospital. She was admitted with multiple injuries including a broken right leg and an amputated left lower limb.
"I had stepped out of my home in Ambedkar Nagar in search of a job. That has now come on a platter, albeit after a major tragedy, but that does not mean the end of my story. I would urge the police administration not to become complacent; instead they must aggressively get on to the trail of the culprits," Arunima said.
She added, "Even though I have suffered, I would not want anybody else to go through such an ordeal; therefore it is important that those responsible for putting me in such a state are awarded deterrent punishment."
Arunima is hopeful that her assailants would get identified and brought to book.
"The police have been saying that it is not easy to identify the culprits since it was a general compartment, but my feeling is that the ruffians were short-distance daily commuters. So the task should not be all that difficult, provided the police make a concerted effort," she said.
The railways has promised all help for her rehabilitation.
"We are extending all help for her rehabilitation which includes a suitable job in railways," said Railway Board Chairman Vivek Sahai.
"Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee has expressed her concern about this unfortunate incident and ordered that all financial assistance be extended to ensure that proper medical attention is provided to her," Sahai said.
The announcement came after the young athlete said a small compensation would be of no help to her and that she needed a permanent government job. "A few thousand rupees cannot last long. I have a full life to live and what I need is not small compensation but a permanent government job," 23-year-old Arunima said from her hospital bed in Bareilly.
She said her dreams have been shattered. "My problem is that I won't be able to realise my dreams. I am thinking of how to fulfill my dreams," she said.
A case under Section 307 (attempt to murder) and Section 393 (attempt to robbery) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered against unidentified persons by the Government Railway Police.
"A high-level inquiry by a four-member team has been ordered to probe into the incident which will submit its report within a week time," Deputy Divisional Railway Manager (Moradabad) A K Singhal said after meeting Arunima at the hospital.
The committee would include commandant Railway Protection Force, divisional safety officer, divisional operating manager and engineer. Singhal gave her Rs 5,000 as immediate relief. Sports Minister Ajay Maken announced an immediate ex-gratia of Rs 25,000 and all possible help to Arunima. Some non-government organisations have been approached to get her prosthetic leg, the Railway Board chairman said. The compensation will be given to her by the Railway Claims Tribunal. It will decide about the amount, he said.
Arunima's sister Lakshmi said her condition was stable, though she had fever. "Doctors have asked us to wait for two days after which Arunima may have to undergo surgery, if needed," she said. "I want to appeal to the state government to ensure the security of women traveling in trains so that such tragic incidents do not happen again with anyone," she added.
Lakshmi said a Railway Protection Force official visited her in the hospital at about 2:30 hours and gave her Rs 5,000 for treatment. He told her that a probe was on into the incident. "Till now the treatment is almost free. We have had to spend only a nominal amount," she said.
National Commission for Women Chairperson Yasmeen Abrar said the women's panel has sought a report from the Uttar Pradesh government on the matter. "The law and order situation should be strengthened and safety and security of women should be ensured. We need more deployment of railway police personnel in trains to prevent\ such incidents," she told PTI. Giving some compensation is not enough, Abrar said adding there should be a "comprehensive plan" for ensuring a better future for her.
Reacting to the incident, senior Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Brinda Karat asked the government why thousands of vacancies in the RPF were not being filled up to strengthen security on trains. Karat said security in moving trains is the responsibility of the RPF but nothing has been done to strengthen the security despite a number of such incidents in the past.
"When we raised the issue in Parliament, we were told that there were something like 11,000 vacancies in the RPF, so obviously either they don't have enough people or there is just callousness towards security of passengers," she said.
Taking a dig at Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is often accused of not giving enough time to her ministry, Karat said, "It seems the railway minister is busy with other activities and is really not that much concerned". Karat said she was deeply saddened for what happened to the young woman who in an act of bravery was trying to stop a robbery, a job which actually the RPF should have been doing. "It is their utter failure."
"I am also angered by the fact that on our trains, in our cities we just do not have the kind of security that is essential. Such cases have happened earlier also and we had been assured in Parliament that security of trains has been absolutely strengthened but obviously now that is not the case," she said. "Even in Kerala a young woman was pushed off a train and she died," Karat added.
Meanwhile, terming the incident as tragic, opposition parties including the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Samajwadi Party said it exposed tall claims of the Bahujan Samaj Party about good law and order in the state. These parties have demanded a thorough inquiry into the matter and immediate arrest of all the accused.
The incident took place between Chenati and Bareilly railway stations when Arunima was travelling to Gautam Buddha Nagar to appear in a Central Industrial Security Force recruitment examination.
With additional inputs from PTI