Mumbai: Highway robbery on rise along pothole ridden roads of Torangan Ghat

Updated: 22 October, 2020 09:27 IST | Diwakar Sharma | Mumbai

Businessmen complain that the thugs hide in greenery alongside the serpentine Jawhar-Nashik road, pelt goods trucks with stones to stop them, or steal from vehicles that slow down on inclines

Illustrations/Uday Mohite
Illustrations/Uday Mohite

The Jawhar-Nashik road, which is ridden with potholes, has been an ideal location, especially at Torangan Ghat, for highway robbers. They hide behind trees and thick bushes along the serpentine road, and loot goods trucks and tourist vehicles after pelting stones at them, forcing drivers to stop. Vehicles that slow down due to the inclines are also looted.

Arif Vanchesa's driver was aware of the robbers' modus operandi and managed to escape though his vehicle was damaged
Arif Vanchesa's driver was aware of the robbers' modus operandi and managed to escape though his vehicle was damaged | Pic: Hanif Patel

Businessmen claimed robberies are on the rise after the lockdown. Arif Iqbal Vanchesa, the owner of a mill in Jawhar, said, "Recently, our truck with raw material worth Rs 1.50 lakh was on the way from Nashik when robbers pelted stones at its windshield. Our driver Jeetendra Rai was aware of the modus operandi and sped away. Thankfully, he did not get hurt."

Junaid Memon and his son recently escaped when their car was pelted with stones in Torangan Ghat
Junaid Memon and his son recently escaped when their car was pelted with stones in Torangan Ghat | Pic: Hanif Patel

Junaid Memon, who runs a supermarket in Jawhar taluka, said, "Last month I was driving back from Nashik and my son was with me. It was around 11:30 pm near Torangan Ghat that the robbers pelted stones at my car. We managed to escape," recalled Memon, who approached Mokhada police. However, he claimed the police told him they would have to do a spot panchnama before registering an FIR and called him next day. Memon said it takes him several hours to go to the police station and he cannot keep shutting his supermarket, hence he did not go back.

The vehicles of drivers Musavvir Qureshi and (right) Taufeeq Ilyas Pathan were recently looted by the highway robbers
The vehicles of drivers Musavvir Qureshi and (right) Taufeeq Ilyas Pathan were recently looted by the highway robbers | Pic: Hanif Patel

A driver, Taufeeq Ilyas Pathan, said the robbers pelted stones and emptied his van of soap he was ferrying, when he stopped. Another driver, Musavvir Qureshi said, "My van loaded with edible oil worth Rs 5,000 was looted."

The Jawhar-Nashik road is ridden with potholes and has many blind turns, making it ideal for robbers who also target tourist vehicles
The Jawhar-Nashik road is ridden with potholes and has many blind turns, making it ideal for robbers who also target tourist vehicles | Pic: Hanif Patel

Arif’s father Iqbal Vanchesa said, "The trucks slow down at blind turns while going uphill. This allows robbers to cut the rope tied instead of shutters, and the sacks of grain, etc. can be easily taken out. As moving trucks are looted, the police are confused about jurisdiction." "It takes the 50-60 people hardly a few minutes to hide the loot in nearby bunkers, which they created," said Vanchesa.

"There is no rise in robberies. Only one incident happened recently but the victim (Memon) did not register an FIR. We are patrolling at night to keep the ghat safe," said Sanjay Ambare, senior inspector of Mokhada police station.

The Jawhar-Nashik road has many blind turns and is ridden with potholes, making it ideal for robbers, especially at Torangan Ghat

1. The Jawhar-Nashik road has many blind turns and is ridden with potholes, making it ideal for robbers, especially at Torangan Ghat

The highway robbers pelt goods laden vehicles with stones in an attempt to stop them

2. The highway robbers pelt goods laden vehicles with stones in an attempt to stop them

The scared drivers often stop when the stones are hurled at their vehicles, and the robbers empty the vehicles

3. The scared drivers often stop when the stones are hurled at their vehicles, and the robbers empty the vehicles

When a heavily laden goods vehicle slows down on an incline, the robbers cut ropes tied to hold the sacks inside, and collect them easily

4. When a heavily laden goods vehicle slows down on an incline, the robbers cut ropes tied to hold the sacks inside, and collect them easily

The goods are then carried to ‘bunkers’ that the robbers have created, to ferry them away later.

5. The goods are then carried to ‘bunkers’ that the robbers have created, to ferry them away later. Illustrations/Uday Mohite

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First Published: 22 October, 2020 08:30 IST

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