The Kurla railway police are baffled as to why the arms consignment of the Indian army was kept inside the luggage compartment of the Guwahati Express unattended, even though five army personnel were deputed to escort it.
“We are seeking information from the concerned authorities to know what is the procedure for the movements of such defense consignment during train journeys,” said senior inspector Dilip Ghore.
At least 75 cartridges and three signalling rockets of the army, on its way from Guwahati to Defense Ordinance Factory in Pune, were missing when the train halted at Kurla terminus on Friday. Some officials believed it could be the handiwork of Naxalites, but others have ruled out this theory and consider it to have been done by a railway thief.
Initial investigation revealed that the army personnel who were escorting the consignment slept in two bogies ahead of the luggage compartment. The police suspect the accused could have stolen the consignment by breaking the toilet wall inside the general compartment, next to the luggage compartment.
In January 2009, robbers had stolen cellphones worth Rs 16 lakh from an out station train at Panvel by breaking the toilet wall built inside the general compartment.
Officials said that the army personnel should have kept a guard on the consignment or kept it with them in the bogie where they were sleeping.
Chief Public Relations Officer (Ministry of Defense) Captain Manohar Nambiar refused to comment.
The police involved with the investigation of the case said the luggage bogie from where the consignment was stolen has been detached from the train, for forensic investigation. “Further investigation is on,” Ghore added.