KASARGOD: Kasaragod police arrested a 22-year-old woman from Tamil Nadu's Kallakurichi district for trying to wreck a train by placing a steel bar with a heavy concrete base on the railway track.
Despite the grave charge pressed against her, which may get her at least three years of rigorous imprisonment, police say Kanakavalli's intentions were not malicious.
"It was not an attempt to sabotage but Kanakavalli's simple-minded thought of using a speeding train to cut the metal piece," said Bekal station house officer inspector Vipin U P.
Kanakavalli, who has studied only up to class II and is a mother of a five-year-old boy, is a scrap collector. All she had on her mind was to cut the concrete base and take home the metal piece worth Rs 1,000.
"She did not know placing such a heavy metal piece on a railway track could derail a train," said the officer.
But Kanakavalli's innocent plan had the entire police machinery and the Railway Protection Force on their toes. Residents spotted the steel bar on the tracks near Kottikulam railway station on August 22, a Monday.
That same day, miscreants threw stones at a passing train at Chittari, 8km up north, beer bottles were thrown at Kottikulam, and stones were found on the railroad tracks near Kumbla.
"When all of it happened together, we could not rule out a bigger conspiracy," said the inspector.
The district police, the Railway Protection Force, and the Railway Police jointly formed a squad. On August 24, railway divisional security commissioner Jithin B Raj arrived in Kasaragod, reviewed the progress of the investigation, and visited the site at Kottikulam.
All these days, the special squad members were patrolling the railway tracks dressed as scrap collectors. They saw drug addicts, aimless youths, and idlers by the railway tracks. "No one had an idea who placed the steel bar on the tracks," said an officer.
Meanwhile, Kumbla police found out that the stones on the tracks were kept by schoolchildren and they were let off with a warning.
On Wednesday, when the squad members were patrolling the tracks, Kanakavalli appeared before them. "We found her suspicious when we asked her about the steel bar and we immediately took her to the police station," said Vipin.
On questioning, she confessed to placing the metal on the tracks. The police charged her with Section 150 of the Railway Act, 1989. A court sent her to judicial custody for 15 days.
When asked if the police could not have let her off with a warning, an officer said the act was grave.
"It could have derailed a train. But there is not much evidence against her. We have only her self-incriminating statement. She will not be convicted," said the officer.