|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
When 'engineers' take to crime
Vijay Singh in Mumbai | November 24, 2004 08:31 IST
He came to Mumbai to fulfil his desire for wine, sex and gambling. The indulgence proved costly, literally, and Prabhat Mahadev Naik, alias Engineer (38), was forced to rob train passengers to satisfy his desires.
His luck ran out on October 26, when the railway police arrested him from Kamathipura, Mumbai's red-light area.
Five of his gang members were also arrested from various places.
Naik, an engineering college dropout, along with Rajesh Patil (28), Ashok Patel (24), Rahul Dixit (22), Anand Ramchandra (32) and Arun Shetty (32), had been robbing passengers bound for south India, Raigadh, Sindhudurg and Pune for the past four years.
The accused have reportedly confessed. All the six -- either college dropouts and/or unemployed -- took to crime as it was the "easiest way to earn money".
The police have recovered ornaments valued at Rs 89,900 from them. They also found five cases registered against the six.
The six came into contact with each other through 'seniors' involved in the crime at the Kurla terminus, which they had, being jobless, made their home. The terminus is notorious as the base for many train robbery gangs.
Rajesh Patil said: "I was working in a shop dealing in electric goods. I lost the job because I was a tuberculosis patient. Being jobless, I used to sleep on Kurla station's platforms. There Anand Shetty, Vikram Khanna and Samim Ansari convinced me to work for them. In the beginning, I was not aware of what they were doing, because my job was to just occupy a seat close to the target passengers. But after one month I started to work like an expert robber."
All the six first worked for Anand, Vikram and Samim, who used to pick up helpless youths for robbery. Then they formed their own gang under Engineer's leadership and started to operate independently.
"We are small-time robbers. Many big-time robbers are still active. We were working for them and used to give a big share from our loot to them. Police have to arrest them to stop such robberies," Engineer said.
The police agree that many such groups are active. And there are both well-educated and illiterate people in the business.
"Education doesn't matter in the profession. Communication skill is the main thing. However, robbers who are educated are smarter than illiterate ones and are experts at misguiding the police to avoid arrest," Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ramesh Pargunde said.
"There are many well educated people in the business," revealed Engineer.
Each gang comprises five to six members. They target passengers in general compartments. After deciding on the target they get seated around them, pretending to be strangers. They strike up a conversation with each other and involve the target passenger in it to win their confidence. Then one of the gang members buys the target victim a drink and laces it with drug. The gang then decamps with the baggage of the unconscious passenger.
"From the year 2000, they had been robbing innocent train passengers. On an average, 150 robbery cases are registered every month with the Mumbai railway police," said Inspector B B Rathod.
The number could be higher, as many cases go unreported, officials said.
At least four of the six arrested have not been in contact with their families for long. Engineer was married when he was in the third year of his mechanical engineering course in Karwar, Karnataka. He had three children. He left his family and came to Mumbai. His wife is dead and he hasn't seen his children for the last seven years.
Rajesh, who was arrested from Solapur, came to Mumbai seven years ago. He was addicted to alcohol and gambling and became part of a gang for easy money.
Rahul ran away from his poor family in Delhi in search of job. He initially worked in a pav-bhaji stall. But the stall closed due to pressure from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. He then managed to get a job with a caterer. Subsequently he became jobless.
One of them is repentant. "I am an alcoholic, because of which I started robbing passengers. Now I realise what I did was wrong. I want to come out of it and need some time for that. I want to correct myself," Engineer said in fluent English.
More reports from Maharashtra
Read about: Telgi case | Mumbai blasts