UP Police Struggles to Solve Mystery of Brutal Attack on Female Head Constable in a Train

The case has puzzled authorities as they are still unable to trace the culprits or a motive behind the attack, which has raised questions on the law and order situation in the BJP-ruled state as well as the safety provided by the Railways.

New Delhi: “She doesn’t remember much about the incident. She was not even able to identify us properly,” says Rahul (name changed). It’s been more than two weeks since his elder sister, a head constable in the Uttar Pradesh police, was found lying unconscious in a pool of blood under the seat of a train near Ayodhya.

The case has puzzled authorities as they are still unable to trace the culprits or a motive behind the attack, which has raised questions on the law and order situation in the BJP-ruled state as well as the safety provided by the Railways.

Allahabad high court Chief Justice Pritinker Diwaker took suo motu cognisance of the incident and is monitoring the investigation. The UP police, the Railway police and the UP police Special Task Force are probing the case, which has turned into a high-profile whodunnit.

The 47-year-old woman head constable Roshni (name changed) is recovering in a government hospital in Lucknow but is still unable to coherently recall the incident due to injuries to her head, her family and police confirmed to The Wire. “When I met her after she regained consciousness, she said she could recognise my face but could not remember my name,” Rahul said.

On September 16, the UP police announced a reward of Rs 1 lakh to anyone who would provide information about the culprits.

The incident took place on the intervening night of August 30 and 31. Roshni, who is posted as a head constable in a police station in Sultanpur district, was aboard the Saryu Express on her way to duty at the Hanuman Gadi Sawan Mela in Ayodhya. Due to some reasons, she missed her stop and reached the final destination, Mankapur railway station, from where she took the train back towards Ayodhya. However, between these two stations, she was assaulted by some unknown person(s) with sharp objects, leaving her badly injured, bleeding and unconscious under a berth in one of the coaches. On her brother’s complaint, an FIR was lodged at the Government Railway Police, Cantonment police station, in Ayodhya against unknown persons under charges including attempt to murder and assault or use of criminal force to woman with the intent to disrobe her.

Police have ruled out sexual assault as the medico-legal test and forensic investigation have not confirmed it.

On September 4, UP DGP Vijay Kumar and special DG law and order Prashant Kumar both said the case would be solved soon and the real culprits would be arrested. Officer Prashant Kumar along with principal secretary (home) Sanjay Prasad visited the injured woman constable at the trauma centre of the King George’s Medical University in Lucknow. UP police along with railway officials even conducted a scene recreation exercise of the incident on September 5.

However, the police are yet to solve the mystery. Roshni is a native of Prayagraj district. Rahul, a farmer, says his sister had no personal enmity with anyone. “We did not have any information or suspicion that this could happen. There was no enmity nor did she receive any threats,” said Rahul.

He, however, presumes that someone known to her must have tracked down her routine and planned the assault. “It’s a possibility,” says Rahul.

On September 3, high court chief justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava took suo motu cognisance of the “gruesome incident” and directed the court registry to register the matter as a criminal public interest litigation. The court issued notices to the Union government as well as the state. The case was brought to CJ Diwaker’s attention by a WhatsApp message he received from an advocate Ram Kaushik at around 3:35 pm on Sunday, September 3, following which the CJ constituted a bench at 8 pm at his residence to hear the matter.

In his letter petition, advocate Kaushik said the “Railway Authorities have completely failed to implement the various safety measures involving fundamental rights of the women. The present incident clearly shows the utter violation of the certain provisions of the Indian Railways Act.”

The Railway Protection Force also “completely failed in discharge of their duties and responsibilities in giving effect to the rules and regulations formulated for the protection of passengers,” Diwaker further said.

The court summoned the investigation officer of the case to appear before it on September 4 with the case diary. Superintendent of Police (GRP) Pooja Yadav appeared in court and informed the judges that five teams of the rank of circle officer and deputy-SP had been formed to solve the case.

Injuries were inflicted upon Roshni’s face and upper body parts with a sharp-edged weapon, presumably a chopper, said Yadav. The court took note of the progress in the investigation and said it had “no doubt that the investigation is proceeding in the right track and would bring results fast”.

The high court observed that the woman constable’s statement under Sections 161 or 164 of the CrPC was yet to be recorded since she was not in a position to present herself before the concerned magistrate. The court then directed the concerned magistrate to visit the woman in the hospital to record her statement and submit a report by the next date. The judges also directed that a team of five doctors, including three senior gynaecologists, examine the injured head constable and submit a report.

Ved Prakash Srivastava, the STF officer investigating the attack, told The Wire on September 17 that the woman’s statement was yet to be recorded as she was unable to clearly narrate details due to a head injury received by her. “I visited her yesterday along with a doctor. She was saying random things and couldn’t remember much,” he said.

It is still a “blind case”, said Srivastava. The STF is probing all angles: whether she had any personal enmity, if the assailant(s) were hired by someone or if it was a random crime. “We are looking into all possibilities,” Srivastava said.

The police are verifying possible suspects but are yet to pinpoint anyone. The woman head constable is so far the only witness in the case.