Mumbai: RPF catch man who threatened commuters with sickle a week after complaint

Dec 26, 2017, 19:02 IST | Suraj Ojha

Man was caught close to a week after woman complained about him yelling at co-commuters on Byculla station with a sickle in his hand

Close to a week after receiving a complaint about an intoxicated man carrying a sickle, the Byculla RPF finally nabbed him late Sunday evening. Darshana Deshmukh, a chartered accountant had tweeted to the railway ministry and Central Railway about the man on December 21, after she saw him at the station while she was on her way home.

Ajay Pawar (with sickle in hand) was caught late Sunday evening at Byculla station
Ajay Pawar (with sickle in hand) was caught late Sunday evening at Byculla station

Deshmukh had said that she'd seen the man at the station, who had a sickle in his hand and was yelling and howling at passers by, following which he got into a local train heading to CSMT. She contacted the RPF control room and helpline first, but allegedly, no one helped her.

Darshana Deshmukh
Darshana Deshmukh

An RPF officer said, "After her complaint, we minutely scrutinized the CCTV footage and spotted him. RPF Byculla officers and staff were keeping a discreet watch on him and on December 24, the same person was apprehended on platform number 1 by seven RPF officials and MSF guards. Sustained interrogation led to disclosure of his name as Ajay Somnath Pawar, 36. He is a resident of Kandivli and confessed he carries a sickle with him as he cuts grass in Karjat and Khopoli and sells it for a living." Cops then handed over Pawar with the sickle to the CSMT GRP, where a case was registered against him under sections of 37 (1A), and 135 of the Bombay Police Act.

No help from helpline
Speaking about the day she spotted Pawar, Deshmukh told mid-day, "I've developed a phobia of travelling in trains from December 21, when around 9 pm, I saw an extremely intoxicated person with a sickle in his hand yelling and howling at people after which he got into a CSMT-bound slow train. I immediately called up the first railway police number (CSMT) that popped up on Google and then also dialled 182 (RPF helpline)." She alleges the CSMT railway police personnel said he'd inform officials at the next station. He then said no one was picking up the phone at Sandhurst Road station.

Twitter to the rescue
On 182, the woman who answered the phone had a novel solution. She told Deshmukh no one would get hurt as the train will be empty at CSMT and the person will just leave. The woman gave no updates on action taken against Pawar thereafter. A good 15 minutes had already passed between these calls. Deshmukh then tweeted to the railway ministry and CR. They immediately forwarded her plaint to more authorities, but there was no update again.

After repeated follow-ups she got a direct message asking for her number. Then, two hours later, a random man messaged her on WhatsApp telling her they're looking for the sickle man. Upon being asked if they checked CCTV footage, he said they can't check CCTVs as the process involves a lot of formalities.

"Today I am happy to hear that police caught him but my sincerely suggestion is that the authorities should appoint people in the control room who can understand the local language. When I called, the woman did not understand what a koyta (Marathi word for sickle) meant," said Deshmukh.

Shouted over kick
As for Pawar, an RPF officer said, "Pawar claimed someone kicked him in the train, because of which he shouted. He had no intention of harming anyone. We are investigating further." Sachin Bhalode, senior divisional security commissioner, told mid-day, "It is unfortunate that our staff did not understand the language. But after her call, our staff swung into action and began a search operation to look for the man."

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