If you walk into the Mumbai CST with expensive valuables in your bag, chances are that you have already been marked by an ingenious gang of robbers. Blame it on the high-tech equipment, an X-ray machine for bags worth Rs2 crore, set up primarily to prevent terrorists from gaining easy entry into the station.
The robbery plan reportedly begins to fall in place the moment a person enters the premises of the station, with bags and family in tow. All bags are scanned at the X-ray machine, which has been funded by the railway ministry.
The computer attached to the machine faces the public. So, if a bag containing costly valuables, say, jewellery, is scanned, any commuter on the adjacent platform who takes even a cursory glance at the computer can clearly see what’s in it. A tab is then kept on this ‘marked’ person in the train. Later, during the course of the journey, the valuables go missing from his/her bag.
Mamta Pathak, a commuter on Punjab Mail who was carrying some jewellery and cash, totally worth Rs3 lakh, learned this the hard way on the intervening night of February 6-7. “She got her five bags scanned at CST. Only one that had a double lock and was cocooned between other bags was cut open, and the valuables taken,” says husband Raghvendra Pathak from Sanpada, who filed an FIR at Bina, Madhya Pradesh.
Pathak alleges that he and his wife fell prey to “a well-organised racket” that identifies woman passengers with bags at the entrance to the station. “Then, someone who was privy to the scanning follows the woman into the train to check her seat number and tips off another accomplice(s) on board.”
He says he had raised the issue of the X-ray machine being open to public viewing with the authorities concerned, who have acknowledged the error.
The police have questioned both the authorised and the unauthorised AC bogey attendants and let them off.
Alok Bohra, Central Railway’s divisional security commissioner, however,rubbishes Pathak’s claim. “There is no evidence to prove this. Tell me howmany such cases have occurred? Bags are scanned everywhere — public transport terminus and airports. To claim that bags are monitored and valuables stolen is ridiculous. But we will investigate and if anyone is guilty, he/she will be punished.”
He explains that commuters have to book valuables they carry in bags with the authorities before boarding a train. Unless this procedure is followed, losses cannot be documented.