Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article inadvertently wrongly attributed an image used in the article. The image has been removed. The error is regretted.
Public transport in India is probably the most cost-effective option for a significant chunk of the population. However, it wouldn’t be wrong to assume that almost all women who use it, have experienced some form of sexual harassment by their fellow commuters, and were unable to do anything about it at the time or even later.
Now, try to imagine a scenario where someone stoops to the level of attempting to molest a visually impaired person, assuming that they would be incapable of defending themselves, and therefore be a weak target.
Quite unfortunately, earlier this week, such an incident occurred on a Mumbai local train.
A 15-year-old visually impaired girl was travelling along with her father from Dadar to Kalyan. The duo had boarded a compartment specially marked for differently-abled passengers. The accused, 24-year-old Vishal Baliram Singh, who was standing right behind the girl, started to touch her, inappropriately.
However, never in his dreams, would the perpetrator have imagined that his victim would be capable of retaliation.
Trained in self-defence and karate, the feisty girl didn’t panic but instead, slowly caught hold of his hand and twisted it so hard that he was forced down to his knees while screaming and writhing in pain.
This incident ended up catching the attention of the other passengers in the compartment. In the meantime, the girl told her father what had happened and refused to let go of Singh till the next stop.
According to Prasad Pandhare, Senior Police Inspector, Dadar GRP (Government Railway Police), her technique was so impeccable that Singh’s fingers would have broken if she had eventually not gone easy on her grip.
“Until the train reached the next station, Matunga, the girl held Singh—[who is] much taller than she is—in a tight grip. She did not seem scared at all, and boldly told us to arrest Singh,” Pandhare said to Hindustan Times.
As soon as the train reached Matunga station, her father handed over the molester to the GRP officers, who were patrolling the platform.
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He was later arrested by the Dadar officials on multiple charges—molestation, illegally travelling in the compartment meant for the differently-abled and travelling without a ticket. A computer maintenance technician for a private firm, Singh has been remanded in police custody for two days.
“We are always easy targets for creeps like Singh. Our school teaches us self-defence and karate as part of our curriculum, so we can face the world despite our disability. I want the man to suffer, to ensure he does not repeat the act with any other ‘easy target,’” said the brave girl.
Well, it was fortunate that the girl was trained in self-defence and managed to teach the perpetrator a lesson that he won’t forget, but there are so many women across the country who are unable to even speak out about the ordeal.
As women, it is time we stop putting up with this kind of shameful misconduct and take charge of the situation by defending ourselves, just like this feisty girl.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)