At least four gelatin sticks were on Thursday found on the railway tracks near Taloja in Navi Mumbai, a day after a discarded overhead equipment was spotted lying on the rail lines in Raigad district, as authorities roped in security agencies to probe a series of suspected cases of sabotage.
The gelatin sticks were found near Taloja station on the Diva-Panvel route of Central Railway on Thursday morning by some gangmen. The development comes in the backdrop of three suspected acts of sabotage in the Mumbai metropolitan region in the last fortnight.
However, police denied the sabotage angle as far as the recovery of gelatin sticks was concerned, saying it could be an "act of mischief" as no detonator was attached to them.
Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Hemant Nagrale said, "Some gangmen, while checking the railway tracks, saw the gelatin sticks around 9 am near Taloja station on the Diva-Panvel route. They informed the railway officials about it, who informed the police.
"The gelatin sticks look very old and discarded and they may not be live. No detonator was attached to them, so there is no possibility of them exploding on their own.
"Somebody might have played a mischief to create panic. This is the third such incident reported from the railway tracks of Navi Mumbai area in the last few days."
Nagrale said a case would be registered against unidentified persons under the Explosive Substances Act and Railways Act at Taloja police station.
In the wee hours on Wednesday, a six-foot-long discarded overhead equipment was found lying on the railway tracks between Jasai and Dapoli stations near Uran.
Around 3 am on Wednesday, an alert driver of a JNPT-bound goods train, coming from Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, spotted the object and applied the brakes, resulting in a halt around 50 metres from the abandoned rail piece, a railway official said.
On January 24, a seven-metre-long rail piece, weighing around 400 kgs, was found on the tracks near Diva station adjoining Mumbai. The alert driver of the Madgaon-Dadar Janshatabdi Express had then averted a mishap by applying the emergency brakes. On February 6, a huge piece of rail rod was found on the tracks between Kalamboli and Taloja stations at Navi Mumbai in Raigad district.
The series of suspected sabotage incidents has sent the Railways and police authorities into a tizzy and central intelligence agencies and anti-terror units have been roped in to crack them.
"We have registered a case against an unknown person in the third suspected sabotage incident near Uran and we have informed agencies such as the ATS and IB in this connection," ACP, Panvel, Prakash Nilewad said.
Chief PRO of Central Railway Narendra Patil said, "In the wake of these incidents, our staff is taking extra care. These discarded pieces were spotted as part of that."
Nilewad added that no arrest has been made in connection with the overhead equipment found lying on the railway tracks between Jasai and Dapoli stations on Wednesday.
A senior officer in the Mumbai Division of the Railway Protection Force said, apart from stepping up patrolling along the tracks, their staff was extending all the support to the probe agencies.
"It would be a bit premature to jump to the conclusion that these are acts of terrorism or sabotage, but all the agencies, including the RPF, are leaving no stone unturned to nab those involved in these cases," the official said.
Although, no suspected case of sabotage has so far been reported from the Western Railway (WR), its officials say that they are taking all measures to prevent such incidents.
General Manager of WR GC Agrawal said, "So far, such cases have only been reported under CR, but it does not mean that it cannot take place in the WR areas. We have already taken serious cognisance of the cases and have held talks at the railway board level as everyone is concerned about them."
He said the departments concerned have been asked to remove the rail pieces lying along the tracks.
"Usually, we are not supposed to keep small rail pieces around the tracks. So, the departments concerned, including the engineering and stores sections, have been asked to look into the matter," said Agrawal.