NEW DELHI: It was a harrowing night for 20 passengers in seven coaches of Mumbai-Nizamuddin August Kranti Rajdhani Express, one of the country’s premium trains, as they were drugged and robbed of valuables worth Rs 15 lakh.
The incident has left even top railway officials surprised over the modus operandi and according to them, Railway Protection Force (RPF) squad was on the train while passengers denied it.
A case of theft has been registered at Nizamuddin Railway Station, the last journey station. According to FIR, the incident happened between Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh and Kota in Rajasthan, a journey time of 2.50 hours between 2:15 am-5:10 am on August 16.
“It was ascertained that belongings of 20 passengers travelling in different coaches were stolen between Ratlam and Kota Railway Station. The passengers were in seven different coaches A-1, A-3, B-5, B-6, B-7, B-9 and B-10,” said a senior RPF officer in Railway Board.
According to passengers, in some cases, bags and purses were taken away while in some other incidents, only cash and gold were taken out from the bags.
In those cases, the bags were left abandoned in toilets and under seats.
“sometime after train left Ratlam station, my wife realized that her purse is missing and it had gold ear rings, Rs 21000 cash, important documents and mobile phones,” said Ramesh Kalra, who was travelling with his wife from Borivali to Nizamuddin.
There were reports of passengers being drugged, while the theft happened simultaneously in 7 coaches.
“We went into deep slumber and only woke up after Ratlam. While I was searching for my purse, two-three more women complained about missing belongings and then we came to know that passengers in 7-8 coaches lost their belongings,” said Alka Jain, who lost Rs 18000, passport and other ID proofs.
Many passengers claimed that the train was unguarded from Mumbai while Railways said that RPF was on board from Ratlam station and none of the trains are guarded for the entire stretch but only some vulnerable sections.
Calling it unfortunate, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu said that an inquiry has been ordered and efforts are being made to bring down incidents and ensure the safety of passengers on board.
Member Traffic Md Jamshed said that being a prestigious train, it is a cause of concern. However, he denied any CCTV cameras on the train.
Incidents of theft in trains have been rising and 50 cases of thefts are registered per day. Railway registered 17925 cases of thefts in trains in 2016 while it was 16180 in 2016 and 12161 in 2014.
Two different agencies RPF and GRP provide security and protection against crimes such as theft, loot and dacoity in trains.
There has been a demand by railways that there should be one agency to handle crime on trains and stations.