TIRUCHIRAPALLI: Every good story needs the most-wanted bad man. Fagin or ‘the merry old gentleman’ as he was known in Charles Dickens’ Victorian novel Oliver Twist is the hideous and vile character that every mother would warn their children to be beware of. He mastered at turning the innocents into criminals—he taught young boys how to steal. But that was a different time in a different country. Had Fagin been a real person and alive in India today, he would have found his perfect match in ‘Thuppakki’ R Ramesh of Sangiliyandam.
The Tiruchy Railway Protection Force (RPF) trailing the mastermind of a series of property thefts for the past 25 years finally recorded success with the arrest of the 45-year-old son of a retired railway employee.
A major breakthrough was made when 25 accomplices of Ramesh, of Sangiliyandpuram near Tiruchirappalli, were nabbed last week while trying to escape with a van full of stolen railways property. During inquiry, three of his aides had reportedly spilled the beans on Ramesh, who fearing arrest had moved the district sessions court for anticipatory bail, but in vain, sources said. The RPF finally traced Ramesh to his relatives’s house and arrested him last Tuesday. Interrogations showed that Ramesh was an accused in over 25 theft cases, including five in Karaikudi section and five in Tiruchy railway limit, said RPF inspector Packirisamy.
Ramesh, just like the vile Fagin, had been operating a specially trained gang, exclusively for stealing fish plates, iron materials and copper cables from coaches at the yard in Tiruchirappalli railway junction and Golden Rock workshop there for years.
On April 29, acting on a tip-off, the RPF had arrested 25 people while trying to make away with stolen railways property in a van. However, Ramesh had managed to give the personnel the slip then. Meanwhile, interrogation of the detenus exposed the identity of the kingpin and the force was on his trail since then.
Ramesh had first come up with the idea of stealing railways property while visiting the Golden Rock Railway Workshop with his father. He started by nicking iron nuts and bolts from the workshop. As his experience and confidence grew, he began pilfering cables and fish plates. He later began taking youngsters under his wings to train them in the art.
All good stories end by rewarding the just and punishing the villain. In Oliver Twist, Fagin was arrested and tried for his crime. The jury found him guilty and sentenced him to death. Just like notorious characters in most Dickens’ novels, Ramesh too was caught, maybe in a less dramatic manner. After his crimes of turning innocents into criminals were brought to light, he was remanded in judicial custody.