Four hours before 25-year-old Preeti Rathi was brutally injured when acid was thrown at her at Bandra Terminus, her uncle spotted the alleged attacker inside the train, standing near the toilet of the same coach as Rathi and her family.
Her uncle, Vinodkumar Dahiya, saw the accused at around 4.30 am when the train reach Surat, but did not find anything fishy about him police said.
The uncle told the Bandra Government Railway Police (GRP) that the man was holding a plastic container in his hands – which possibly contained the acid.
Rathi, who had come from Delhi to join the INHS Asvini, Colaba, as a nurse, was attacked minutes after her arrival to Mumbai.
The incident occurred in a crowded station at 8am, despite which the accused fled, and no one chased him. Rathi lost vision in one eye, her face was disfigured, and also damaged her intestines and respiratory organs.
“The attack seemed planned. The accused travelled to Mumbai with the acid and covered his face,” said Vijay Dhopavkar, senior inspector of Bandra GRP.
After attacking Rathi, he fled towards through the south exit, police said. Dhopavkar said the attacker was dressed in a yellow shirt, blue jeans and had long hair.
Police suspect he may have boarded a departing train on the adjacent platform. The accused and the victim’s family had gotten off on platform 3.
“There are CCTV cameras at three spots on platform 2-3. Footage from one of them showed him fleeing, but he could not been seen in the others. He may have boarded the Jammu-Tawi Express on platform 2,” said an officer.
Family members took Rathi to the stationmaster’s office and the GRP was informed. Rathi was taken to the hospital, where she is currently in the ICU.
“When we reached the Gurunanak Hospital, they refused to admit her, seeing her injuries and asked us to take her to Masina Hospital in Byculla, which has a special burn’s ward,” Dhopavkar said.
The victim is not in a state to speak. The Delhi cops have been informed, and are scanning CCTV footage to see where the accused boarded the train.
A rag picker, Sameer Shaikh, 22, and two other passengers, Sudesh Dipendra and Sunny, sustained minor injuries. Preeti’s father and aunt were also hurt.