Two unclaimed gunny bags raise alarm aboard a local, cops are informed of corpses stashed in the sacks, and what follows is a story that can only happen in Mumbai

Sunday was an ordinary day for commuters of the ladies' compartment aboard the Belapur-bound local on the Harbour line that left CST station around 9.15 pm. Except that it had an off-the-wall ending.

Hitting the sack: Two abandoned gunny bags that were discovered in
the ladies compartment caused panic. The Railway cops later discovered
that two rag pickers were sleeping in the gunny bags. representation pic

At CST, as the women, weary from the day's work, started filing into the compartment, restless to get home, their fatigued eyes did not notice right away the two oddly lumped bunches of burlap hustled under the seats. When they did, they shrank away.

And the train had already started chugging along.

What is the first thing that springs to the forefront of your mind when you spot two unclaimed sacks, knobby with the weight of the unknown, dumped in a Mumbai local? The gory headlines from countless newspaper crime reports? Or terror stats?

"When we spotted the gunny bags, our hearts skipped a beat. None of us dared to get closer to see what was inside. We called up the control room frantically, but the line was busy," said a commuter who witnessed the incident.

It took the railway cops some 25 minutes to respond to the commuter's calls. Meanwhile, most commuters switched bogies and others did not dare board it. But some were caught unawares. When Belapur resident Sandhya Deshmukh boarded the compartment at Chunabhatti station, she saw that more than 12 women standing on the footboard shouting for help.

"When I called the helpline number, the operator said we would get help at Kurla railway station," said Deshmukh.

The train entered the said station. Two GRP officials got in the compartment, amid stiff nerves and breathless words. They were agitatedly directed to the sacks. They got their sticks out, ready to poke the bags. Everybody held their breath. As the cops prodded, the sacks responded. Gasps ensued. The sacks, indeed, moved, and two hitherto asleep ragamuffins emerged drowsily from the bags of burlap.

Both eight years old, the urchins said they had slipped into the bags to beat the chill of the winter night. Frowns of fear smoothened out, grim faces made way for facetious grins, dread disintegrated into droll guffaws. "As the commuters, in a state of terror till now, burst into laughter," Deshmukh said, "The cops gave the boys light slaps, and they ran away with their gunny bags."

"We had received information to the effect that dead bodies had been stashed in sacks aboard the train, and have maintained the papers," an officer from Kurla GRP told MiD DAY.