Over 50 passengers on board Jodhpur-Pune Express were assaulted and looted by six dacoits between Lonavla and Chinchwad station in the wee hours of yesterday. The railway police officials said the dacoits, who had boarded the train posing as commuters, threatened the passengers travelling in the general coach and took away their valuables, including gold ornaments. The collective worth of the looted valuables was pegged at over Rs 1 lakh.
The railway police, who are currently facing manpower issues, said they cannot provide protection to each and every train. Lakahram Choudhary, one of the passengers who tried to resist the dacoits, sustained minor injuries after he was assaulted by the dacoits.
Railway police officials said the dacoits might have boarded the train at Lonavla at 3.45 am as passengers and since the train does not have any stop between Lonavla and Pune railway station, they targeted passengers who were asleep. The dacoits threatened them with sharp objects and made away with the booty.
“When the train halted near Chinchwad railway station for further signal, the armed dacoits alighted it and fled away by taking advantage of darkness,” Police inspector Mahendra Rokde of Government Railway Police said.
Rokde said the dacoity was first-of-it-is-kind on the route and they had launched a manhunt to nab the culprits. “We have detained three suspects and their interrogation is on,” Rokde said yesterday. The railway police spokesperson said they have only 150 police personnel, including the officials for the jurisdiction of 37 police stations.
“We have jurisdiction till Karjat towards Mumbai and towards Solapur it is till Nira railway station. With this meagre man force, we can not control such dacoities,” Rokde said. Rokde said the railway police had sent a proposal to the government to provide them with adequate police force, but action is yet to be taken.