Friday 21 June 2019

'We felt so bad... he didn’t stop' - tourists suffer racial abuse on train

Prasun Bhattachjee was travelling to Dublin on holiday with his parents (Photo: RTE Radio One)
Prasun Bhattachjee was travelling to Dublin on holiday with his parents (Photo: RTE Radio One)

Callum Lavery

A tourist has spoken of how he was subjected to racial abuse on a Dublin-bound train during his holiday in Ireland.

Prasun Bhattachjee, from India, was on the 7.05pm train from Belfast when he claimed a passenger made racist remarks to him and his elderly parents.

Speaking to broadcaster Joe Duffy on RTE Liveline, Mr Bhattachjee claimed the man was drunk and verbally abused the trio for nearly an hour.

"One person who was on the same coach, abused us for our skin colour, our nationality, all those things," said Mr Bhattachjee.

"We felt so bad. He sat beside us after boarding and and he was drunk I think.

"He didn’t stop, he remained there up to Dublin, saying 'why don’t you know English, why have you come here, you should’t have come here.'

"We didn’t react, we remained calm and sat there."

Also speaking on the programme was a fellow passenger on the train, named only as 'Peter'.

He described the incident as "embarrassing".

"It was really, awful to have to listen to the tirade of abuse that the group received. It was really, really embarrassing," he said.

"I  boarded the train in Newry and shortly afterwards the abuser came on the train, he was certainly drunk, there was a beer can in his hand and he was full of abuse, it was absolutely terrible.

"I felt the train guards that came should have done more.

"[The guard] didn’t seem to intervene, he just asked the gentleman sit down on the chair but apart from that he made no other type of intervention with regard to his behaviour," he continued.

"As I got off the train I went over to Mr Bhattachjee's father and apologised on behalf of myself and on behalf of everybody on the train for the abuse they had to listen to."

A spokesperson for Irish Rail described the incident as "disgraceful" and said they have reached out to Mr Bhattachjee to help them investigate the incident.

"This was a shocking incident, and we are very sorry that this family experienced such disgraceful behaviour on board one of our train services.

"On board personnel did endeavour to stop the racist harassment, and also arranged for security to meet the train at Connolly upon arrival.  

"We have been contacted by the customer directly on social media, and have asked for further information to assist in our investigation. 

"We have also been contacted by other customers with information. 

"We will also provide gardaí with CCTV footage to help identify the individual involved. 

"Abuse of this nature has no place on our trains or anywhere in our society," they concluded.

Extra gardaí are set to be deployed on trains in the coming months following a significant increase in reports of harassment and antisocial behaviour, Irish Rail has said.

The increased security follows the release of figures which show more than 560 passengers made formal complaints last year about intimidation, vandalism, assault, begging and theft on Irish Rail services.

Complaints about anti-social behaviour on the Dart almost doubled last year to 96 from 52 the previous year.

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section