Complicity of police personnel in the crime also being probed: SP (GRP)

The Chennai Express robbery near Piduguralla in Guntur district is suspected to be the handiwork of a gang from Stuartpuram and its vicinity. Fingers are also being pointed at some policemen for their complicity in the crime.

The Government Railway Police (GRP) has definite clues suggesting that there were at least six youths, all aged below 30, who committed the offence. The value of property lost was estimated to be around Rs. 2 lakh.

The GRP is well aware of the modus operandi of these gangs. They invariably strike between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. and ensure that there are unmanned railway gates well-connected to the main roads to make good their escape after committing the offence.

GRP understaffed

However, this time the robbery could not be prevented in spite of extensive patrolling because the GRP are understaffed and they did not have the help of the law and order police from the districts, who are preoccupied with election duty.

GRP Superintendent (Vijayawada Division) Ch. Syam Prasad told The Hindu that there were 14 offences in 2010, nine in 2011 and 11 in 2012 and not a single robbery was reported in 2013.

The robbers were watching the movement of GRP teams between stations and snatched the opportunity when there was a gap in the changeover of duties. There has been no response from the higher-ups in spite of repeated pleas to fill the vacancies, the SP said.

Police under a cloud

The armed police party, which was to travel up to Nadikudi, alighted one station before and according to the victims’ statements, the miscreants travelled in reserved coaches on being permitted by the Travelling Ticket Examiners (TTEs).

Besides, the role of some policemen was suspected. It may be recalled that Vijayawada GRP had surrendered a Circle Inspector for allegedly colluding with smuggler gangs and had also suspended a few police personnel.

“The culprits who vanished into the dark after committing the crime could have contacted each other over phone. We have some definite clues in the case. The role of the police in passing information to the gang is being probed,” the SP added.