Pushpak Express case: ‘They had knives as well as knuckle dusters’

Youth who witnessed incident on Pushpak Express and helped catch an accused, recounts the horror

The dacoity and sexual assault that took place on Pushpak Express on Friday occurred between Igatpuri and Kalyan stations, a distance covered in 28 minutes by trains traversing the Kasara Ghat.

Gulfam Ali (25), who witnessed the assault, and was instrumental in catching one of the accused, said eight men had started behaving aggressively as soon as they got into the train. Ali, a resident of Lucknow, was travelling to Mumbai and was in the same compartment as the woman who was molested.

“They looked as if they were under the influence of alcohol or some kind of drug. They were aggressive as soon as they entered the train. They started off first by heckling people in the compartment. However, as soon as it left the station they became violent,” Ali told The Indian Express.

He said that the men who had weapons like knuckle dusters, hit several people on the head and demanded that the passengers hand over money.

“They had knives as well as knuckle dusters with which they were threatening people and asking for money. They assaulted a few passengers. When I tried to intervene, one of them hit me on my head with a sharp object and I started bleeding. I was scared and kept quiet,” Ali, a cook by profession, who was returning to the city after the lockdown, told Indian Express.

Ali said that when the train reached Kasara Ghat section, which has a number of train tunnels, the eight started misbehaving with the woman.

“They had robbed a few passengers when the train reached Kasara Ghat section. This is when they became more aggressive. It was at this time that they set their eyes upon the woman who was with her husband and started misbehaving with her. During this time her husband put up a fight. I also resisted their behaviour, but they assaulted both of us. They also made an attempt to throw one person out of the train. The guy, however, survived as the train was slow. They assaulted the woman very badly. We all were feeling helpless and powerless since there was no one in the train who could stop them as all of us were terrified,” he said.

The assault ended when the train reached Kasara station. Ali claims that when passengers saw the approaching station they gathered some courage and started shouting for help.

“We all started screaming when the station came. However, six of the accused had jumped out of the train by then. When one of the accused was trying to flee, I gathered courage and caught hold of him. It was then that the other passengers gathered courage and came out in support. We then locked him up in the toilet. The commotion led to the police entering our compartment and they subsequently caught another accused. We then handed over the person to the police,” Ali said.

“I am shaken up by the incident and still feel scared. However, I feel bad that in spite so many of us being there in the train we could not save the woman from being assaulted,” he added.

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