Eighteen years ago, Bhawana Dave’s gold chain was snitched from her purse when she was travelling to Churchgate in a local train. The Santacruz resident, then 32 years old, immediately registered a case of theft with the Mumbai Central railway police. It took the police two years to crack the case. But she hasn’t got her chain back.
In 1997, a man snatched software engineer Suresh Dharmapurkar’s gold chain when he was alighting from an Andheri-bound train. The police claimed to have found the chain, but Dharmapurkar never got it back.
FOR BHAWANE and Dharmapurkar, it’s been a rather long chain of events that will hopefully end on a good note. With a lost property list spanning nearly two decades, the railway police have initiated a special drive, the first of its kind, to return stolen valuables of people, lying in storerooms of railway police stations.
On Monday, 117 commuters like Dave, whose chains, mobile phones, watches and cash were stolen in trains, are expected to come to Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus to collect their belongings.
Since the past month, personnel attached to 17 railway police stations have been making the rounds to court for getting written permission to return the recovered valuables to the complainants. “The objective of the drive is to generate a sense of faith among the commuters,” said Government Railway Police Commissioner A.K. Sharma. “There is common feeling among citizens that the police do not work and as such they would never get back their lost property.”
Sharma said that since no adequate provisions (like vaults, safes) had been made for storing the valuables properly, there was a chance that they might get misplaced.
Police officials have been sending personal invites and making calls to complainants. “Many complainants did not come despite making several calls. We had to request them to come and cooperate with us during our special drive,” said Senior Inspector Bharatkumar Rane of the Mumbai Central Railway station. “The victims whose gold valuables had been stolen, did not turn up in spite of reminders,” said Senior Inspector Narendra Kulkarni of the Dadar railway police. “However, now with gold prices rising, more people have started approaching us.”