Debate on motive as RPF cop kills senior, 3 passengers on board train

Mumbai: Tragedy unfolded in the wee hours of Monday on board the moving Jaipur-Mumbai Central Express train where a Railway Protection Force (RPF) constable allegedly shot dead his senior and three passengers near Palghar station on Mumbai’s outskirts, officials said.

The assailant was nabbed with his weapon while trying to flee after passengers pulled the chain of the train which stopped near Mira Road station (on the Mumbai suburban network) at around 6 am, but the motive behind the chilling incident was not yet known.

Constable Chetan Singh (34) shot dead RPF Assistant Sub-Inspector Tika Ram Meena and another passenger in B5 coach with his automatic weapon after 5 AM. He then shot dead another passenger in the pantry car five coaches away and went on to kill one more passenger in S6 coach, which is 8th bogie from the B5 coach, an official said.

According to the official, the alarm chain in the train was pulled at 5.59 AM. As the train came to a halt near Mira Road station, Singh jumped down on the railway tracks with his weapon and started running. He was nabbed by personnel of Government Railway Police (GRP) and RPF after a chase and his weapon seized.

Two of the deceased passengers were identified by the Railway police as Abdul Kadarbhai Mohammed Hussain Bhanpurwala (48), a resident of Nalasopara in Palghar and Asgar Abbas Sheikh (48), a resident of Madhubani in Bihar, while the third victim was yet to be identified.

Many people claimed it was a case of hate crime even as official version said motive was unclear.

The Railway Board has set up a five-member committee to probe the incident, said another official.

A 25-year-old RPF constable, who is the complainant in the case, revealed Singh, who hails from Hathras in Uttar Pradesh, tried to strangulate him before going on the firing spree, a GRP official said.

The GRP official, citing the FIR, said complainant constable Amay Ghanshyaam Acharya said Singh was not feeling well so ASI Meena advised him to rest and take medicines when the train arrives in Mumbai.

The complainant said constable Singh went to take rest, but after 15 minute he woke up and started demanding his rifle. When Acharya refused to give him the weapon, he tried to strangulate him and managed to take the rifle and left the spot in anger, he said.

Acharya went to the pantry car and narrated the incident to his seniors. Later, he came to know that ASI Meena was injured in firing, said the GRP official.

Acharya feared Singh may attack him so he hid in a sleeper coach. The assailant got down from the train and started walked on the tracks between Meera Road and Dahisar stations. Acharya asked passengers to close the windows and saw Singh firing on the train indiscriminately, said the official, quoting from the FIR.

After 15 minutes when the train started moving towards Mumbai, he saw four bodies, including that of ASI Meena, and when it stopped at Borivali station, all bodies were brought out and kept on the platform, the official said.

The bodies were brought to state-run J J Hospital in central Mumbai at around 9.15 pm and their post-mortem examination was being conducted, said a spokesperson of the medical facility late in the night.

Singh was arrested and booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 302 (murder), and the Arms Act. The weapon provided to Singh had 20 bullets and 12 of them were fired by him, said the GRP official.

He will be produced before a court on Tuesday, he added.

“The incident occurred after 5 AM after the Mumbai-bound Jaipur Superfast Express crossed Vapi station (in Gujarat). RPF constable Chetan Singh, who was on escort duty, opened fire at his senior Tika Ram Meena and went on shooting dead three more passengers in different bogies of the train,” Government Railway Police (GRP) commissioner Ravindra Shisve told media persons.

He said the exact reason behind the incident is not known yet as an investigation is underway.

Queried on a video purportedly showing the accused constable present near dead bodies and apparently justifying the killings, Shisve said the video clip is being examined along with other materials.

The GRP has formed an SIT to probe the incident.

“It is too early to jump to any conclusion, and at this stage, it will be premature to comment anything and share any details about the probe,” Shisve said.

“This is the first-of-its-kind of the incident on a running train. Passengers are scared. We want to assure them that police will investigate the incident in detail,” he added. Another senior police official said the accused RPF constable was very short-tempered.

Western Railway’s (WR) chief public relations officer Sumit Thakur told PTI the accused constable was attached to the Lower Parel RPF post here, while ASI eena was attached to the Dadar RPF post.

The Jaipur-Mumbai Central Express departed from Jaipur station at 2.01 pm on Sunday and reached Surat, where the escort party boarded the train, at 2.47 am on Monday.

Later, the train stopped at its official halt at Vapi in Gujarat, from where it departed one minute late at 4.08 am, as per the official running status of the train.

Thakur said an alarm chain pulling happened in the train near Dahisar station (in Mumbai).

(After the incident) The train was held up at Borivali station for about an hour from 6.21 am to 7.15 am. It reached its final destination Mumbai Central station at 8.07 am, about 72 minutes late, as per the train’s running status Most of the passengers from the B5 and S6 coaches alighted at Borivali station.

A senior RPF official said ASI Meena hailed from Sawai Madhopur in Rajasthan. He was supposed to retire in 2025.

According to railway officials, the accused constable was transferred to Mumbai from the Bhavnagar division last March and had recently visited his native place Hathras. He joined duty on July 17.

A forensic team visited the B5 coach and the pantry car of the train and collected samples, a police official said.

Singh was staying in barracks here. His family includes his wife, two children aged 6 and 8, and his parents.

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