Every Sunday, the city’s railway authorities conduct mega-blocks in order to improve the performance of trains, tracks, signals and overhead cables in the coming week. This Sunday, a group of men attempted to steal some of these cables, but were nabbed by officials of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) in the nick of time.

The spot outside the Malad railway sub-station where the robbery was attempted. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar
The spot outside the Malad railway sub-station where the robbery was attempted. Pic/Kaushik Thanekar

As per routine, the Western Railway (WR) carried out a mega-block between 12.50 am and 4.50 am between Borivli and Bhayander on Sunday. Twelve hours later, a brown truck appeared outside the Malad depot, chiefly a power traction substation, which stores signalling cables, rail sleepers and other paraphernalia.

Three men, later identified as driver Kishankumar Maurya (42), Abu Khan (22) and scrap dealer Shezad Qureshi (32), got off the truck. They began loading a huge circular drum containing 1,000 metres of core signalling cables into the truck, using a four-clip vehicle. They pretended to be on official duty, to avoid raising suspicion.

“We got a call from our sources about this,” said an RPF official, on condition of anonymity, adding, “There are slums right outside the main gate of this depot. Soon after, head constable Ashok Pandey, who was stationed on duty at Malad station, reached the spot for inspection.”

RPF officers from Andheri station, headed by Senior Inspector Manish Rathod, also reached the spot. When they asked to see paperwork authorising the transfer, the trio failed to produce them.

They even failed to clarify who had sent them for the job. “We immediately nabbed them, and they subsequently admitted that they were planning to steal the entire drum of cables, worth around Rs 1.2 lakh,” said another RPF officer.

During their interrogation, the three men revealed that they had hatched the plan for the theft on July 26, over a cup of tea. They decided to spend R2,500 to hire the vehicle they would need to execute their plan. They wanted to sell off the signal cables to a scrap dealer.

The trio also gave clues to the railway cops about two other members of the gang Umesh Yadav (34) and Manoj Gupta (37) who had allegedly put them in touch with the mastermind behind the crime, identified as Sunil Khare, who works as a labour contractor in the railways.

The police are now on the lookout for Khare, who is on the run. “Khare is absconding, but we caught the other two conspirators,” said one of the RPF officers. The five arrested accused have been booked under Section 3 of the Railways Property (Unlawful Possession) Act.