Cases of drugging and robbing passengers are on the rise on trains on the Konkan route.
The latest victim of robbery was Nikesh Rameshan, 23, hailing from Pathiriyad here. He lost his laptop, mobile phone, and wallet on his way to Kannur from Mumbai by the Netravati Express (Train No. 16345), and is yet to recover from the effects of drugging. The incident was reported at the Railway Police Force (RPF) office here exactly a month after another passenger was robbed of his valuables on board the same train in a similar fashion.
Nikesh, working in a shipping company in Mumbai, boarded the train at Panvel near Mumbai on September 6. He said that though he was on the waiting list, he boarded coach S5, hopeful of getting a seat or berth. He met a bearded young man inside the coach and asked him if he could put his luggage near his seat. Soon the two befriended each other.
The man spoke English and said he was working in the Merchant Navy. Around 6 p.m. he offered Nikesh a piece of chocolate. That is the last thing he remembers about his acquaintance. By the time he woke up, the train had left Mangalore junction early in the morning and he had lost his valuables.
When he lodged a complaint with the RPF station here on September 7 morning, he was immediately taken to a hospital. Nikesh said he was still finding it difficult to walk because of the effects of the drug.
The RPF officials said a similar incident was reported by another passenger on August 8. The passenger, Babu Sreedharan, was offered a cream biscuit, drugged, and robbed aboard the Netravati Express on August 7.
An RPF official here said the force had launched an awareness drive among passengers on the problem of drugging. Under the campaign that concluded in August, pamphlets were distributed among passengers to alert them to people offering them biscuits, chocolates and other eatables, he added.
More cases of robbery are also being reported on the Konkan route. A woman passenger was robbed of nearly 34 sovereigns of gold ornaments and Rs.8,000 while she was travelling from Mumbai to Kanhangad on the Netravati Express on April 27 last. In another recent incident, an NRI family from Kochi was robbed of Rs.1.5 lakh and passports while they were travelling from Mumbai on the Mangalore-Lakshadweep Express on August 1.