In what seemed like a scene straight out of a gangster movie, a gang of eight armed and masked robbers looted passengers onboard the Nellai Express after cleverly manipulating the train signal near Mylam in Villupuram district on Thursday night.
This is the second such incident onboard the same train in the past six months.
The robbers simultaneously targeted two compartments in as many groups after rigging the signal and preventing the train from moving further.
After bringing the train to a halt near Tindivanam at around 11.10 pm, the robbers barged into the S7 and S12 compartments, brandished weapons and stole gold jewellery from dumbfounded passengers.
While inside the train, the gang mainly targeted women. Deepa (32), a resident of T Nagar, was relieved of 3.5 sovereigns of gold. Few other women were also robbed of their gold jewellery. Sexagenarian Pushpa, a Kodungaiyur resident who was heading to Nellai to visit her relatives in the S7 coach, was robbed of four sovereigns.
Further attempts to rob passengers were thwarted by some men onboard the train, who ganged up against the armed robbers. The assailants then jumped off the train with whatever they could lay their hands on.
Though some passengers tried to follow the robbers, they disappeared into the darkness after pelting stones at those who followed them.
Policemen guarding the train were in the S3 coach and were alerted of the incident only after all the robbers fled the scene. By the time the cops reached the victims, they were enumerating their losses.
In the meantime, the loco pilot — who had stopped the train in the absence of a signal — alerted a local railway station. Railway personnel rushed to the spot only to realise that the signal had been rigged by the robbers to make sure that the train did not cross that spot which was dark.
After an hour, the signal was fixed and the train resumed its journey.
Victims of the robbery lodged a complaint with Chengelpet Railway Police.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the gang could have been the same one that carried out a similar robbery on the same train about six months ago. That case is yet to be cracked.
“We have established similarities in the modus operandi in both the robberies. We suspect that it could have been the handiwork of the same gang,” a senior police official said.
Railways DSP (Central Railway Station) V Ponramu, who holds additional charge of Egmore Railway Station, conducted spot investigations. Ponramu told Express that armed foot patrolling along the tracks had been intensified in the aftermath of the incident.