Local train journeys that cost under Rs 10 have started to cost a few unfortunate commuters thousands of rupees, this Ganpati season. For 30 year-old Mayuri Rathod, the journey from Khar to Lalbaugcha Raja in Parel turned out to be worth Rs 13,000. The pair of earrings she was wearing, that cost Rs 13,000, were stolen in an overcrowded train she was travelling in from Khar to Lower Parel.
"I was standing near the door of the ladies compartment when a large crowd got in at Mahim. With more people entering at Matunga, the compartment was packed. As the trained approached the platform at Dadar, I felt my earrings being unscrewed by a woman in a purple saree. She got off with my gold earrings at the crowded Dadar station and the train left the platform before I could get off and pursue her," Rathod said. Rathod got off at Elphinstone Road station to register a complaint but was sent by the officials to Dadar where the incident took place.
Rathod's case is not an isolated one. She was a victim of a racket active between Mahim and Lower Parel stations. The Railway Police has registered a total of 37 cases in the month of September alone. Many of the victims have reportedly been women on their way to Lalbaug.
Deepak Jadhav, a GRP officer said, "The matter is being looked into and officers in civil clothes are patrolling the stations to nab the culprits." One would assume that women decked up in expensive jewellery to visit Ganesh mandals would be targeted by robbers. However, devotees don't see the theft as a problem.
Saraswati Jadeja, 27, who visited Lalbaugcha Raja with her family, said, "I can't come all this way to see the Lord without dressing up for the occasion." Neelam Hadkar, a 56 year-old devotee who travelled to the pandal from her Bandra residence, agreed. "The trains are crowded but you can't not dress up for such a special occasion."