Spl police teams to check drugging in trains

Anirban Guha Roy

Patna, Nov. 8 -- With growing cases of drugging of passengers returning home during festive season, the Bihar railway police have decided to depute plainclothes policemen at stations and all major trains. They would also issue appeals' in the form of pamphlets cautioning travellers not to partake of any food items offered by unknown co-passengers.

For the first time, special railway police teams have been sent to New Delhi and Kanpur to coordinate with their counterparts in those locations and keep a tab on gangs with a history of drugging passengers and looting their belongings in running trains.

"The special team of officers would be stationed at Adarsh Nagar station, New Delhi station and also travel in selected trains in which the rush of migrant labourers is heavy, during the next few days. One team would also be posted at Kanpur station," said ADG (railways), P N Rai.

Trains running on the mainline between New Delhi-Howrah, Gorakhpur-Siwan-Muzaffarpur section and New Delhi-Saharsa route would be specifically monitored as theses sections witness heavy rush of passengers, mostly lower income group people returning from northern states like Punjab. Trains running on Patna-Mumbai route would also be under watch, the ADG added.

Drugging of passengers has evolved as a major crime in trains passing through Bihar, especially during the festive months when people working in other states return home. Antisocials involved in the crime usually befriend the passengers before offering them drug laced food items, and subsequently decamp with their belongings.

Biscuits, tea and rotis are said to be the common food items, that are mixed with drugs - mostly sedatives - so as to render a person unconscious. Consumption of such edibles causes health problems like loss of appetite, restlessness and mental disorder at times, as has been observed after medical examination of the victims.

"We are also sensitising the TTEs, pantry staff and other officials, who travel in trains passing through different divisions. We are providing these people pocket sized phone directories with phone numbers of railway police personnel so that they could alert the officials in case of any eventuality," said another senior police officer.

The ADG (railway) said deputing special teams at railway stations, in running trains and providing phone directories to railway staff had shown postive results during Durga Puja. The number of drugging cases was much lower than during the corresponding period last year.

"We will also distribute printed appeals to passengers not to eat anything offered by unknown co-passengers. Announcements would be made at all railway stations," he added.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.