As trains slow down just before entering railway stations in the national capital, snatchers on the prowl for victims seem to have a free run robbing phones, chains and money from passengers who are either inside trains or are deboarding, said police.
Police sources told The Indian Express that 43 cases of snatching and nine cases of robbery from inside trains following a similar modus operandi have been reported from railway stations in the city from October 2021 to last month. Just last month, near the railway tracks in Delhi Cantonment, five-six juveniles allegedly entered a train and robbed mobiles and chains from passengers at gunpoint, said police.
Police said 20 hotspots near the tracks have now been identified for strengthening law and order and nabbing the accused. Seven snatching cases, the highest, were reported from North Delhi’s Daya Basti jhuggi clusters in Sarai Rohilla.
There are 48 railway stations in the city with seven of them being major stations. The seven major stations, including New and Old Delhi railway stations, witness an average footfall of more than 10 lakh passengers per day.
Explaining the modus operandi, a senior police officer said the snatchers, mostly juveniles, sit around areas near the tracks where the train usually slows down or halts, following which they either enter a compartment after identifying a victim or they hold the passenger at gunpoint and rob them of their belongings after they get off the trains before reaching the station.
Said an officer: “The juveniles usually live in slum clusters located metres away from the railway tracks… the accused use the opportunity and quickly enter the train before snatching a chain or mobile or robbing other valuable property from the passenger at gunpoint… they sometimes snatch mobiles through the train window grills or from a passenger standing on the train’s door. They also confront passengers who deboard the train at a distance before it reaches the station.”
The officer said there have also been a few cases of murder and attempt to murder where passengers tried to resist the robbery bid. “A majority of the juveniles are repeat offenders who mostly sustain on theft and snatching from inside train compartments,” added the officer.
DCP (Railways) Hareesh H P said: “There have been two cases of murder and three attempt to murder instances during the intervening period… the juveniles are let off early and hence they go back to their old ways of committing crimes, making it difficult to curb the crime.”
He said trains sometimes slow down at a few locations because of signal issues or track interchange and these spots also happen to be near JJ clusters such as Daya Basti JJ cluster in North Delhi’s Sarai Rohilla; Zakhira flyover towards Patel Nagar railway station in Central Delhi’s Anand Parbat; and Shakur Basti JJ cluster. Snatching incidents occur mostly in sleeper class trains, which don’t have glass windows, he added.