Mumbaikars, hold on to your handbags, the pole-snatchers are back

Updated: Dec 09, 2016, 10:09 IST | Asif Rizvi

Govandi resident almost falls off train as she loses her bag to the robbers on track between Bandra-Mahim; then faces a nightmare while lodging a complaint

Bharti Shewale managed to lodge a complaint against her attacker only after an hour-and-a-half of running around between stations. Pic/Sameer Markande
Bharti Shewale managed to lodge a complaint against her attacker only after an hour-and-a-half of running around between stations. Pic/Sameer Markande

The trains, they just keep getting increasingly unsafe for women. A day after a woman was pushed in front of a train by a chain snatcher, another incident of a woman almost falling off from her perch on the footboard as a pole snatcher between Mahim-Bandra attempted to steal her handbag has just come to light.

Unfortunately, her ordeal didn’t end there as she was then made to run from pillar-to-post between the Mahim and Bandra railway police stations before finally lodging a complaint in the matter at Bandra.

On December 5, Bharti Shewale (28), the chief of housekeeping staff at a western- suburb hospital was on her way home from work when the incident occurred. “It was the 8.50 pm Churchgate local which I had boarded from Khar. I was in the ladies compartment and had planned to change the train at Mahim to reach my residence in Govandi. But, when the train was between Bandra and Mahim, there was a man standing at the iron pole near the deserted patch. He tried to snatch my handbag that contained important documents, my cellphone and some cash,” she said, adding, “In the first attempt, I managed to save it, but immediately there was another person with a stick in his hand who hit me hard to loosen my grip and it fell to the ground even as I managed to maintain balance and prevented from falling off a moving train by holding on to the pole at the footboard. When I looked out the train again, three other people were sitting at the same spot.” She went on, “I immediately raised an alarm and five-six fellow passengers gathered around but nobody could help. I then spotted a police official in the next compartment and narrated the incident to him, but he simply suggested that I go to the Mahim railway police. Isn’t it the job of the police officials deputed for the security of women in the ladies compartment to ensure their safety? What if I had fallen from the running train? I have two school going kids to take care of.”

It gets worse
However, that was not the end of the trauma as she then followed the instructions of the officer on the train and attempted to lodge a complaint at the Mahim railway police station, but was sent back to Bandra, then made to visit the crime spot again before finally lodging a complaint at the Bandra GRP station. Time taken for this charade: An-hour-and-a-half. “After I deboarded at Mahim and went to the police station with the officer, he cross checked the spot and told me it was Bandra GRP’s jurisdiction so I went there. When they took me to the spot, I shockingly saw the snatchers were still sitting there, but the police took no action against them. Instead, they took me back to the station and after offering first aid, finally registered my complaint at around 10.30 pm. In this time, at least six more people were waiting to file a complaint regarding similar incidents that happened with them,” she added.

A police officer from Bandra GRP, on condition of anonymity, said, “The incident was brought to our notice and the standard operation procedure was followed. Medical aid was provided to the complainant and her complaint was immediately registered.”

However, the accused are yet to be identified or nabbed.

Senior PI of Bandra GRP, Sunil Tondwalkar said, “The accused have yet to be arrested and no items have been recovered.”

Previous instances
> On September 3, 2015, a pole snatcher near Bandra-Mahim — Sohail Khan — was hit by the train from which he planned to snatch phones using the same modus operandi

> On June 30, 2015, when Niyanta Mirjankar (22) and Jeremy Fernandes (25) were going home from their workplace in Goregaon, they standing at the door with their phones in their hand. Two thieves hit Mirjankar’s hand with a pole, causing the device to slip from her hands and fall out of the train.

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