17 July : I was traveling from Muzaffarpur in Bihar to Bardhamman in West Bengal, returning after the training to doctors in three districts on flood preparedness and response management. The train arrived at 7.20 pm, a good one hour 45 minutes late than its scheduled time. I was in two tier AC coach which is supposed to be one of the best coaches, with additional cost involved in it. But, to my surprise there were people who were going to nearby towns, who were even supposed to get down at night 1.00 pm, with ordinary tickets, but sitting in the two tier AC. They had bribed their way in by paying some money to the ticket examiner. When I returned to Muzaffarpur again on 20 July, I say even crowds with just current ticket going for a religious festival in the sacred month of Shravan in Hindu calendar, were forcing their way into air-conditioned coaches and the policemen were just watching helplessly. What is happening to the Indian railways? It is becoming difficult to travel safe in the trains.
After three days, I was returning from Patna. (I cancelled the ticket from Muzaffarpur due to the fear of being overpowered by the same “religious” crowds.) This time the train was a super-fast, and so did not have much stops and was not much crowded as well. At 1.30 am, policemen came and asked me if the bags which contained mostly the training materials were mine. I said, “Yes”. They said, “Jaagkar raheyega!” which meant, “Remain awake”. So, who is supposed to take responsibility if there are thieves and the several “religious” persons walking around in the train without any proper ticket? Me? I am supposed to keep awake? Ridiculous. If you have to take a train for your travel, do it only in emergencies, take care….Don’t sleep. And, better still, if you can avoid, avoid the Indian Railways.