A 23-year-old British national has alleged she was sexually harassed by a Punjab police officer, while travelling on board Shaheed Express on Tuesday afternoon. She has lodged an official complaint with the British High Commission in Delhi. She said her attempts to contact police officers in Amritsar to file a complaint were met with “no response”.
The victim, a student, was returning to Delhi from Amritsar, where she had been backpacking. “I reached the train station a little early and I found a guy following me around. I was very intimidated and no matter what I tried, I couldn’t shake him off. When I entered the train, he stood outside and leered at me. Finally, I found a police officer in the compartment and when I approached him, the man went away,” she said, adding that the same police officer later harassed her during the journey.
“There was another man in the compartment and I saw the police officer handing him some money, after which the other man promptly went off to sleep. Then the police officer came and sat right next to me and started speaking to me in Punjabi, which I don’t understand. He moved closer to me and started touching my thigh. He pointed at the other guy, who was sleeping, and began making obscene gestures,” she said.
She said despite her protestations, the police officer didn’t stop attempting to touch her and continued making obscene gestures. “He made gestures as if indicating that I should indulge in sexual activities with him. He made kissing noises and rubbed himself on the chest. He had his legs up on the other side of the sleeper, essentially trapping me, and even though I got louder and louder in protestations, the other guy didn’t get up,” she said.
Eventually, she managed to get away from the police officer and went and sat down on an upper berth, where she had earlier kept her luggage. “I took out my camera and started taking his photographs, saying out aloud ‘BBC’ to try and scare him away. I also wrote down his name. But he was completely shameless, he kept leering at me and continued with the obscene gestures,” she said.
She said the officer got off at the Beas railway station. When she reached Delhi, she filed an official complaint with the high commission. “I have spent all of Wednesday trying to get in touch with the Punjab Police. But the minute they realise this is a case of sexual harassment against a Punjab police officer, they suddenly don’t want to help and they pretend that they can’t speak in English. No one wants to take responsibility for what happened,” she said.
“I am very shaken by the entire incident. I wanted to stay in India till July, when my visa expires. But right now, I don’t know if I want to any more,” she said.