NAVI MUMBAI: A woman commuter is extremely critical after a robber lurking near a pole by the trans-harbour railway line struck her with a hooked rod by a robber, knocking her off a running train on Thursday evening. As she lay unconscious and bleeding by the tracks between Ghansoli and Rabale, the thief robbed her ornaments and handbag and fled. Her colleagues rescued her and took her to hospital, where doctors said she is brain dead.
Aarti Gholapkar, 43, who lives in Dombivli with her daughter, was returning home after work at a shirt factory in Pawane MIDC. As the railway police’s escort duty begins at 8.30pm, there was no policeman in the coach.
A company bus had dropped them at Koparkhairane station and she and some of her colleagues had boarded the ladies compartment of a 7.15pm train to Thane.
Gholapkar was standing on the foot-board as the train pulled out of Ghansoli station. “Around 7.30pm, an unidentified person standing near a pole struck her with a stick that had a sharp hook at one end in a bid to knock off her handbag. Gholapkar, taken by surprise, fell off the train. Finding her unconsciousness, the robber stole her gold mangalsutra and a pair of earrings worth Rs 26,000, apart from her handbag, and fled,” said a GRP official.
Gholapkar’s colleagues got off at the next station, Rabale, informed a motorman about the incident and rushed down the tracks to rescue her. She was taken to Citi Care Hospital at Thane and admitted in ICCU.
“Aarti’s condition is critical. She has sustained diffuse axonal injury to her head, due to which her brain has been severely damaged. She has internal bleeding in the brain and multiple hemorrhages. On medical grounds, she is brain dead,” said Dr Santosh Rathi, the neurologist treating her.
The motorman informed the Rabale station master, who called the Vashi GRP. By the time the police came, Gholapkar had been taken to hospital.
The GRP has registered a case of robbery under sections 394 (causing hurt while committing robbery) and 397 (robbery or dacoity) and detained a suspect. “We have picked up a suspect from Mumbra who has been involved in similar offences in the past. We are questioning him. We have formed teams to question youths loitering around tracks,” said P Karyakarte, senior inspector, Vashi GRP.
Gholapkar’s mother and brother, Abhay Kanekar, have rushed to the hospital from Chiplun. “Aarti has never harmed anyone and I can’t understand why something so terrible had to happen to her,” her mother said, fighting back tears. “The robber should be caught and lynched so that he never repeats something like this.” Gholapkar had been working as a checker in the quality control department of the shirt factory for four years. Her husband Anil, an electrician, stays in Konkan.
Two of Gholapkar’s colleagues, Avanti Sahu and Gitanjali Bandekar, were travelling with her when the incident happened. “We heard Aarti scream as she fell off the train. Initially, we didn’t understand how she suddenly lost her balance. Later, we learnt about a robber trying to knock off her handbag. Most of the commuters were mute spectators and even the cops turned up much later,” Sahu told.
In a similar incident at Chinchpokli barely an hour before the Rabale case on Thursday, a robber hit three women travelling on the footboard of a crowded local with a stick and stole a cell phone dropped by one of them. “Had the girl who dropped her phone not clasped the vertical rod at the coach door tightly, she would have fallen off,” said a media professional who witnessed the incident around 6.15pm. No complaint was lodged with the railway police.