“After reading about the mass molestation case in Bangalore on the night of December 31st, 2016, my friend asked me to pen down my experience from a few months back. I chose not to post anything about the incident on Facebook back then because I had already taught the man in question a lesson. Now, since we are all trying to bring to attention how women everywhere feel unsafe, it’s important that we all share our stories.
So my friend and I were travelling to Hampi, Karnataka, in the month of June. I booked two sleeper class bus tickets, and since we were two females travelling, I took the first two seats just to be “safe”.
We boarded the bus and the conductor from the beginning of the journey was quite nice to us. Since it was an overnight trip, we slept early. I slept on the berth next to the window and my friend on the aisle berth. At that time, I had no inkling that the seat facing ours was the bus conductor’s seat. Anyhow, in the wee hours when the bus stopped for a tea break I woke up and saw my friend was quite disturbed. When I probed, she told me she felt someone touching her back in the middle of the night. That instant when she turned to see who it was, she could catch the conductor pulling his hand back to himself.
We both were furious, but she did not feel too sure if it was the conductor or just an assumption made while asleep. Moreover, we were in transit and starting a fight didn’t seem like the best thing to do.
Our return tickets were booked with the same bus service, and while returning, we got the same bus and the same conductor. The moment my friend saw him, she felt angry and did not want to board the bus. I assured her that this time around I would sleep on the aisle side and make sure nothing happens. Now we were both exhausted with all the travelling and slept quickly. And our worst fear came true, as I was sleeping I felt a hand on my chest and for a second I thought it was my friend, but then I realised it wasn’t her. I grabbed this man’s hand and yelled at him. The conductor started apologising and ran towards the bus driver. I did not say a word to him after that and waited until morning. We decided not to get down at our stop, and we went to the last stop, which is the largest bus stop in Hyderabad and is also very crowded (Mahatma Gandhi Bus Stand). Once the bus stopped, I ran to find the nearest police booth.
I walked into to the police booth, and luckily the police officer was well spoken. I narrated the entire episode to him, and he asked me to find the guy. He sent along two constables with me. By the time I was going back to the place where the bus had stopped, I saw it leaving. The conductor saw me from inside the bus, and I saw them speeding. Fortunately, the constables ran and got hold of him. We brought the man back to the police booth and the moment he saw the police officer he started crying and begging. He touched our feet, and his theatrics began. He was howling and begging that he will never do anything like this again. I slapped him. The officer made him apologise to us, and we eventually had to let him go. The officer asked me if I wanted to file an official complaint, but I let him go thinking about his family and how they would suffer.
That day I did not feel proud of myself. The question that still haunts me is why did this happen to us in the first place? Would it have happened if there was a guy along with us? Why are women objectified like this? Yes, I was wearing shorts and a sleeveless tee but does that give anyone the right to touch me?”
Submitted By – Triptasree Ghosh
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