Police officers familiar with the modus operandi of train robbers on the dreaded Guntur-Nellore stretch said it is always advisable to ensure that one is not alone in a compartment, especially during the risky window of 10 midnight to 5 am.

Telangana Police Academy Deputy Director S.M. Ratna made the mistake of being alone in the compartment for physically handicapped persons on the Simhapuri Express on Saturday morning, police officials said. Most of the passengers on this train get down at Nellore, leaving it nearly empty as it goes on to its final destination of Gudur, 35 km away.

That was the opportunity her assailant had planned for. He boarded the train at Ongole and must have waited for his quarry to be perfectly vulnerable. Railway officials said that as the robber boarded the train at Ongole, he may probably be a gangster belonging to Stuartpuram in Guntur district or Kapparallathippa in Nellore district. “The sort of ad hoc travel plans Ratna made land many into the hands of robbers. People should not resort to risky travel under any circumstances,” said a railway police officer in Nellore.

Explaining the modus operandi of train robbers, the officer said they look for vulnerable passengers like lone travellers, woman passengers and aged people. They take care not to attack people who are cautious and who are vigilant about fellow passengers. Railway officials on this route advise passengers to be wary if they are approached by strangers. They point out the robbery of a group of jewellers from Kavali on the Navjeevan Express back in May this year. The robbers posed as police officers, ordered the jewellers to get off the train with them and robbed them thereafter. Officials also advise passengers to be particularly alert at vulnerable points along this train route.

In the incident on Saturday, Ms. Ratna was attacked as the train slowed down as it passed Challa Kaluva, a small dry stream 5 km from Gudur. The Simhapuri Express stopped there as station staff had to find a platform for it at the Gudur railway station.

The robber snatched valuables from Ms Ratna and jumped onto the sandy riverbed and disappeared into the bushes.

The sort of ad hoc travel plans Ms Ratna made land many passengers into the hands of robbers

- Railway official 

Source : The Hindu , 13th Sep 2015