Gang offers sedative-laced juice to rail travellers

Gang offers sedative-laced juice to rail travellers

1. Gang of six offered sedative-laced juice in plastic cups to passengers on the KSR Bengaluru-New Delhi Karnataka Express. 2. The juice made the victims sleep for 25 hours at a stretch. The gang would then flee with all their valuables. 3. The passengers were so drowsy that they had to be hospitalised. DH Illustration/Prakash S

Travelling alone to north India in the train? Beware of your co-passengers. They would talk friendly, offer help with things and hand you a glass of juice.

If you are polite enough to accept the drink, you would probably sleep for 25 hours at a stretch and wake up to find the co-passenger missing with all your valuables.

The Bengaluru city railway police recently registered two cases of criminals using this textbook style thieving technique. One of the cases had five passengers unwittingly gulping the sedative-laced juice handed in a plastic cup and the gang of thieves fleeing with their luggage, valued at Rs 1.5 lakh.

Amit Kumar Shriramji Giri (24), a native of Uttar Pradesh's Ballia, was an unsuspecting victim to this type of crime. Giri was travelling to his native village for passport verification when he drank the sedative in the moving train.

"I was travelling on the Karnataka Express to Nizamuddin in New Delhi. I had to get down at Itarsi junction in Hoshangabad district, Madhya Pradesh, to board another train," Giri told DH.

A group of five to six men speaking casually in Bihari and Hindi befriended Giri and four other passengers and offered them juice in plastic cups. The five then slept for 25 hours until the train reached Itarsi. Meanwhile, the criminals left with their luggage and mobile phones.

At Itarsi, the other passengers tried to wake up Giri and the four others, and informed the Railway Protection Force when the five men did not wake up. The RPF took them to a nearby hospital in Hoshangabad, where they identified the five suspects.

Besides Giri, who registered a complaint with the police, the other men are identified as Mukesh Jagat Rokaya (26) and Amarsing Mane Dhami (40), both from Nepal; and Ghanshyam Ramji Nishad (22) and Ganeshprasad Shribholanath Nishad (22), both residents of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Similarly, a private bank executive Jayaram Sukla (31), residing in BTM Layout, was travelling to Satna in Madhya Pradesh for a four-day holiday. As he boarded the Karnataka Express, a co-passenger offered him Tropicana juice.

Sukla refused, saying mango juice was not his favourite, but the co-passenger forced it in a friendly way and made him drink it. "I drank the juice at 8 pm that night and woke up at 10 pm the following night," Sukla told DH. Missing were his wallet along with his cards, valuables and two mobile phones.

"We suspect this to be the handiwork of an inter-state gang targeting lone passengers," a railway police official said. "We're also probing as to how the gang procures the sedative."

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