A motorman’s determination not to let a thief flee with his expensive watch led to a dramatic chase that culminated in the miscreant’s capture and a 45-minute delay for the train he was manoeuvering.
The drama began on Saturday night, when motorman Sanjay Kumar Lajpat Singh (43) was taking the Titwala-bound train on the Central Railway network. “Around 10.46 pm, Singh took the train from CST for Titwala. When he had reached Ambivili station around 12.24 am and was sitting inside the cabin for the halt, a man in his late 30s opened the door and snatched his wristwatch. He started running,” said Somnath Tambe, senior police inspector of Kalyan Government Railway police (GRP).
Leaving the train waiting at the station, Singh managed to nab the thief just a few metres away and pulled him back to the cabin. “The cabin was plunged in darkness. I shouted for help but nobody came forward. I managed to catch hold of him for a few minutes, and also checked the public announcement system (PA) given to motormen to communicate with the guard, but it was not working. The thief managed to slip through my fingers,” said Singh.
After managing to wriggle out, the thief started running outside the platform. The motorman started chasing him again, shouting for help all the while. A bystander, who later identified himself as Ajay Jadhav, heard his cries and also joined the chase.
“The two of us managed to catch hold of the thief again outside the platform. He had taken cover behind the bushes. We identified him as Santosh Sharma, and he denied being involved in the theft,” said Singh.
The train’s guard SD Gangurde, who had followed the sound of the commotion, checked Sharma’s pockets and found the wrist watch, which had cost Singh Rs 2,000.
“Our constables immediately reached the spot and took custody of Sharma, who is a resident of Ambivili. He had taken advantage of the darkness to flee with the motorman’s watch,” said Tambe.
The Kalyan Government Railway police have registered a case under sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty, 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty and 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code.
The recent rise of nighttime thefts in trains on the Central Railway network has been a source of concern. Usually, the thieves climb into the trains and snatch mobile phones from the passengers when the trains halt at stations. They run away just as the train starts rolling out of the station.