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Twitter user @sokrafood was recently molested on a train. What was unusual was her decision to share much needed information on how to file an FIR and get justice.
Women being molested in public transportation such as trains and buses is not something new. Still, information regarding how to legally handle such unfortunate incidents is not known to most of us.
Women are usually asked to behave ‘properly’ if they get molested or to just ignore it. Very few people consider taking the help of the legal system. Some important reasons for this are the lack of information as well as slow speed of legal responses.
One Twitter user @sokrafood was recently molested in a Shatabdi train and she shared a detailed version of her ordeal so that women can know how to deal with unfortunate incidents like these.
Many people don't know that TT wields power in any train. In fact, more than a police officer. My co-passenger in a drunken stupor molested me in a full shatabdi. First thing you do, scream and shout and alert the people around you because they are potential witnesses.— mmkay (@sokrafood) July 16, 2019
Many people don't know that TT wields power in any train. In fact, more than a police officer. My co-passenger in a drunken stupor molested me in a full shatabdi. First thing you do, scream and shout and alert the people around you because they are potential witnesses.
She tweeted that in trains people should know the importance of your co-passengers and the Traveling Ticket Examiner (TTE). If you are molested then shout and let people know because these people can act as your witnesses.
Most of us keep silent in such situations because we are afraid of being judged or just finding silence. However, we need to understand the importance of shouting in such situations. Shouting or screaming will let people know and then people can come to help and can also act as witnesses when legal procedures happen.
While the TTE is the immediate authority to inform, in her case, the TTE was not close by, so she asked a Pantry employee to inform the police or TT. Fortunately, members of the Railway Police Force (RPF) arrived and the perpetrator was escorted outside. This is something that anyone should do if they are molested. Informing the nearest legal authority can aid the process of getting proper help.
The First Information Report (FIR) is an important part of the process and it is your right to have one filed. Every FIR includes the serial no, date of occurrence, time of occurrence, place of occurrence, contents of complaint etc.
She mentioned the importance of filling a proper FIR and also writing the entire incident on a piece of paper. This is important because whatever you give out as your statement acts as evidence in the case. Also, if you write it down beforehand then it helps you to frame your statement.
Include as many details about the perpetrator as you can, even if minute, because during interrogation the smallest information can be useful. Finally, file an FIR in the police station at or closest to the station (all large stations have one) and try clearing all your issues then and there.
Another important thing she mentioned was that you need to insist on an FIR being filed in your presence. She stayed on for three hours at the police station to ensure that this happened.
Time is of essence in these cases. DO NOT LEAVE THE STATION WITHOUT FILING AN FIR. If they say we will file it, stay till they file it. I stayed for 3 hours at the police station because they were taking time to file it. But DO NOT GIVE UP. they have to file an FIR— mmkay (@sokrafood) July 16, 2019
Time is of essence in these cases. DO NOT LEAVE THE STATION WITHOUT FILING AN FIR. If they say we will file it, stay till they file it. I stayed for 3 hours at the police station because they were taking time to file it. But DO NOT GIVE UP. they have to file an FIR
In such cases, she says, “You can call up the police control room at 100 or the women’s helpline services and file a ZERO FIR”. Every police station has a jurisdictional area for which they can take up the investigation but in the case of a Zero FIR, any police station can register it irrespective of jurisdictional area, although the investigation will be taken up the police who have jurisdiction over the area where the incident occurred.
In case they refuse to file an FIR, you can call up the police control room at 100 or the women's helpline services and file a ZERO FIR. The control room will guide you on the same. Take copies of your statement, even if it's photograph. Ask the police to give you a receiving— mmkay (@sokrafood) July 16, 2019
In case they refuse to file an FIR, you can call up the police control room at 100 or the women's helpline services and file a ZERO FIR. The control room will guide you on the same. Take copies of your statement, even if it's photograph. Ask the police to give you a receiving
Also, always remember to take a copy of the FIR and ask the police to give you a ‘receiving’.
The user also mentioned how the next day, the police asked her to drop the charges, asking her to consider the man’s family, as is quite common in India. However, she remained steadfast in her decision to pursue the case.
So the investigative system may not be entirely supportive, but a first step is to file a case and insist on having it pursued.
She adds, “You will have to repeat the story in front of different officials but don’t give in!! They will try to find loopholes in your statement but you know what that person did and in clear audible words tell them what exactly happened. never deviate from your statement because then your case becomes flimsy.”
The user mentioned that on the third day she had to appear in court. She points out the importance of being firm and clear on one’s statement. Informing your family and friends about the incident is also important because they too can act as witnesses.
Often, people are hesitant to file an FIR because they think that they have to visit court very frequently; however, @sokrafood says, “You have to go for ONE COURT PROCEEDING. This will probably take one whole day in court but this is the only time you need to go. You’re served the summons at whatever address you give the authority.”
When a case becomes a criminal case then the person who was molested becomes a witness and in such cases, the person filing the complaint doesn’t need to hire an advocate. The state prosecutor will be fighting the case.
She also cautions us, “The prosecution will examine you first and then the defence lawyers will cross-examine you. They will try and find loopholes in your story or they will try and find differences between the police complaint you gave and the statement you are giving at the moment”.
Hence it is important that you stick to the statement and why writing everything you remember is important because 7months down the line, you won't remember everything as clearly as you do during that moment and that's why take pics of the statement so that you know what u said— mmkay (@sokrafood) July 16, 2019
Hence it is important that you stick to the statement and why writing everything you remember is important because 7months down the line, you won't remember everything as clearly as you do during that moment and that's why take pics of the statement so that you know what u said
While it is true that immediately after filing an FIR, you may need to attend court once for the initial hearing, it is true that cases can go through multiple appeals and last for a long time.
So if you file a case in the event of molestation or even assault, it is very important to write everything down. Also, take pictures of your statement so that you sound the same even after a long time, and the defence for the accused has fewer opportunities to find loopholes.
Given the common occurrence of such crimes against women, this thread has enlightened many women on their legal rights and the procedures we need to follow to get them.
Image credits: Fotokannan [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
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