Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The HinduForensic experts and Railway policemen inspect the train and the boxes that were used to carry the cash. Photo: M. Karunanakaran
tracking money:RPF personnel involved in combing operations in Salem on Tuesday. 

Theories and clarifications abound as police, Railway Protection Force personnel look for elusive clues

The theft of Rs. 5.78 crore from a parcel van attached to Train No. 11064 Salem-Chennai Egmore Express came as a rude shock to Southern Railway officials who had no clue of the huge cash transfer. Since the State police had provided escort, neither the Railway Protection Force nor the Government Railway Police were aware of the cash consignment.

“There was no alert or advisory from any agency on the transfer of currency by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the Salem-Chennai Express. Had there been information, we would have deployed RPF or GRP personnel at vulnerable places and alerted railway staff at all stations where the train has scheduled stoppage,” a senior railway official told The Hindu.

He said specialised tools were required to drill a hole through the roof of a railway compartment and it was not possible for a layman to even attempt it. It was highly risky or rather impossible to operate gas cutters on the roof of a moving train even along non-electrified sections.

“The parcel van is not an armoured vehicle. The roof comprises a 1.2 mm copper-bearing steel sheet cover over horizontal and vertical steel frame members. It is possible to drill a hole through the roof using specialised tools. We have to check whether the hole was drilled from inside or outside…,” the official said.

Probe into lapses

The Tamil Nadu police will probe into security lapses, if any, in the theft of cash since the parcel van was escorted by armed police personnel. The police travelled in a compartment adjacent to the cash-laden van.

“We are checking where exactly the parcel van was handed over to the police for escort. If the van was loaded with cash boxes in the yard, attached to the rake and then handed over to police custody at the Salem railway station, then we have to investigate other angles. An internal inquiry will be ordered to look into any lapses on the part of the escort party,” a senior police official said.

Had there been considerable time between loading the parcel van with the cash and handing it over to police custody, there could be a possibility that the suspects drilled the hole and stole the cash at Salem itself or at an a convenient place in transit, he added. It is also possible that the robbers travelled in coaches close to the parcel van and drilled the hole while the train was in motion or at scheduled/unscheduled stoppages en route. “We are assisting the RPF in investigating all possible angles. Forensic and cyber crime experts will also be roped in,” the official said.


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