The Railway Protection Force (RPF) suspects that a group of “ticketed passengers” could be behind a series of thefts on Rajdhani Express trains, including the one on August Kranti Rajdhani on August 16, a senior RPF official told reporters. The RPF believes that thieves who stole valuables and cash worth Rs 10-15 lakh from sleeping passengers on board August Kranti Rajdhani may have followed a pattern, for similar thefts were reported on Rajdhani trains on two earlier occasions, a senior rail official said.
The digital footprints of passengers travelling on August Kranti on August 16 were being scanned to see if any of them travelled on the Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani on August 9, when three passengers complained of thefts under similar circumstances. “We are checking to see if groups of passengers travelled on both the trains and also scanning them on the basis of gender, age and other parameters,” a senior official of the ministry said.
Twenty-five passengers on the Mumbai-Delhi August Kranti Rajdhani Express said cash and valuables worth Rs 10-15 lakh were stolen from their compartments early Wednesday. Many complained of being drugged and accused the railway pantry staff as well other employees of being involved. “We are also checking if bookings were made with the same user IDs online and if they were given any fare concessions. We are coordinating with the police in Mumbai, Ratlam and Kota and talking to staff members,” the official said.
The thefts took place in AC-2 and AC-3 coaches of the train, which has 11 halts between Mumbai and Delhi. A similar incident took place in July, when passengers aboard the Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani complained of thefts. Another common link between the latest incident and the two earlier ones is the suspected location of the thefts. The incidents occurred between the Baroda and Kota junctions.
The theft on the August Kranti Rajdhani is suspected to have occurred near the Ratlam junction in Madhya Pradesh, which falls between the two junctions. Officials said sleuths were studying CCTV footage from the entire route. The union ministry had de-rostered seven coach attendants, one in each affected coach, and seven housekeeping staff.
According to official figures, there has been a 33 per cent increase in theft of passengers’ belongings as compared to last year. Between January and June this year, there have been 12,573 such cases, compared to 9,436 during the same period last year.