Nightmare on Konark Express: Befriending strangers leads to Mumbai teen's kidnap, assault

May 04, 2013, 05:41 IST | Vinay Dalvi and graphics by Amit Bandre

'Don't talk to strangers', they must have warned you many times, specially before a journey you were making alone. A 19-year-old from Parel would never forget the cautionary cliche, after he was beaten black and blue by co-passengers on a train to Secunderabad, all because he made friends with the wrong person � a con artist. Here is Amol Sonawane's misadventure.

Amol Sonawane is a 19-yr-old working as a surveyor with Pinnacle Marine Services in Fort. His current job is to bring a container from Secunderabad. So there he is, boarding the Konark Express from Dadar, on a bright afternoon on April 30. Since it is vacation time, the train is crowded. “I did not get a reserved seat so I decided to travel in the general compartment,” says Amol.

Graphic: Amit Bandre

Something must be said about Amol’s attitude to strangers here: he loves making friends out of them. “As the train chugged along, I started interacting with my co-passengers,” he says. One of his new friends is a man who tells him he is a police officer from Karnataka.

As the train crosses Pune and reaches Daund Junction, the cop claims he has lost his wallet. He starts checking other passengers’ bags and seems angry when he finds it in the bag of an Oriya called Das. 

“He told Das that that he had kept Rs 17,000 in his wallet, which was missing. He then forcibly took away a one-tola gold chain and three cell phones from Das and got off at Tandur station,” Amol recalls.  

Before getting off at Tandur in AP, the cop whispers to Das — out of Amol’s earshot — that he is Amol’s friend, and if Das ‘finds’ the Rs 17,000, he should give it to Amol in order to get his stuff back

“But I did not hear what he said. I didn't know him. I was only chatting with him. Once he got down, Das and other passengers cornered me. They stripped me, hung me upside down, beat me up, and asked me to bring them the chain or give them Rs 50,000,” says Amol, who was hidden away in the toilet every time the train would halt at stations

Amol somehow managed to call up his mother Subhangi. After hearing of his plight, his brother Sagar rushed to Bhoiwada police station, where inspector Asaram Patare called up the railway helpline.

“The RPF constables could not find him initially, as Amol would be locked away in the toilet at stops... ...

Then a constable got on the train at Srikakulam Road station. When the train started moving, Amol was taken out of the toilet by Das and his companions and we found him shoved under the seat. He was rescued and taken to Palasa station in AP,” says PI Patare. 

“They beat me for eight hours. I cannot walk properly. I have to take heat therapy. My mistake was only that I had befriended this ‘constable’ who I believe is a fake, as he fled with the valuables,” said Amol. 

Pic/Datta Kumbhar

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