The arrest of four natives of West Bengal has solved about a dozen cases, writes S. Vijay Kumar

These suspects accused of drugging and stealing valuables from co-passengers on trains gave no room for suspicion. They travelled only in air-conditioned coaches and posed as high-profile businessmen. The arrest of four natives of West Bengal by the Railway Police at Chennai Central Railway Station last week has solved about a dozen cases and detection of more crimes is likely based on their confessions.

Mohamed Sajid (22), Basanth Hussain alias Mohammed Rafiq (42), Mohammed Masood Alam (44) and Sheikh Azad (45) of Kolkata, alleged inter-State criminals, were nabbed by a special team when they were trying to rob a passenger. Preliminary investigation revealed that they were involved in nine cases in Tamil Nadu and three cases in Howrah, Raigarh and Mumbai. They were detained under the Goondas Act.

Inspector-General of Police (Railways) K.C. Mahali said they would first befriend the co-passenger and then offer tea or water mixed with a sedative. “They would be well-dressed and can converse fluently in different languages, including English. Once the victim consumes the drugged drink and falls asleep, the accused would take away valuables from him and escape,” he said.

While entering fake details in reservation forms, the gang made sure that their image was not captured in surveillance cameras anywhere. They chose long-distance trains passing through States to make it difficult for the police to investigate.

“In one case, the accused drugged Pon. Balasubramanian (27) of Nagercoil and stole his laptop and other valuables. The offence took place near Erode on the Mumbai-Kanyakumari Express. By the time victims realise that they have been cheated, the train would have entered another State. The accused would have detrained elsewhere…investigating doping cases is really a meticulous task,” he said.

Mr. Mahali said police had intensified the ongoing campaign to sensitise passengers to strategies adopted by criminals. “We are creating awareness among the people not to accept any drink or food from strangers however friendly they might appear,” he said.