Four more held after woman raped in front of husband on train to Mumbai

Kalyan Railway Police on Sunday arrested another four persons for allegedly sexually assaulting a 20-year-old woman in front of her husband and co-passengers on the moving Lucknow-Mumbai Pushpak Express between Igatpuri and Kasara stations in Maharashtra on Friday evening.

All eight accused have now been arrested, police said; four had been arrested hours after the crime was reported.

Four of the eight men have criminal records. Police claimed the accused were under the influence of drugs at the time of the crime.

Kashinath Helam alias Kalshya (22), Dhananjay Bhagat alias Guddu (18), Akash Shenare (19), and Rahul Adole (21), were arrested from Igatpuri on Sunday. Arshad Shaikh (19), Prakash Pardhi alias Pakya (20), Arjun Pardeshi (20), and Kishore Sonawane alias Kalu (25), had been arrested earlier.

Seven of the accused are from Igatpuri; the eighth, Arshad Shaikh, is from Malad in Mumbai.

Arshad is said to be a drug addict who was headed back to Mumbai after having left home after a quarrel with his family earlier. According to police, he did not know the other men before they met at Igatpuri.

“He (Arshad) was in possession of cannabis. He had a chance meeting with the other seven accused at Igatpuri when he was returning to Mumbai on Friday. They struck up a friendship and started smoking cannabis. They were high when they decided to board the Pushpak Express and rob passengers,” a police officer had said on Saturday.

According to police, the men boarded the Pushpak Express as it was pulling out of the station. “As the train made its way to Mumbai, the men, who had knives, belts, and blades, threatened and robbed the passengers,” Deputy Commissioner of Police Manoj Patil said.

Nine passengers were robbed of their cell phones, six had cash snatched from them, and the woman was sexually assaulted. “When her husband and a co-passenger tried to intervene, the robbers assaulted them with weapons,” Patil said.

Another officer said that of the Rs 96,390 worth of cash and property taken from the passengers, Rs 34,200 had been recovered from the four men arrested earlier.

When the train stopped at Kasara, the passengers raised an alarm, and railway staff chased and caught two of the eight alleged criminals, who led police to another two.

An FIR has been lodged under IPC sections 395 (dacoity), 397 (robbery, or dacoity, with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt), 376(D) (gangrape), 354 (molestation), and 354(B) (assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe), and the Railways Act.

The woman was married six months ago. She and her husband were going to Mumbai to look for work. She has been discharged from hospital, police said.

“The victim is stable and has been discharged from hospital. All the accused have been arrested. Investigations are on,” Quaiser Khalid, Commissioner of Police, Railways, Mumbai, said.

Police Inspector Shardul Valmiki of the Kalyan GRP said seven accused were produced in court and remanded in police custody until October 16. The other accused will be produced in court on Monday.

Police have recorded the statements of 13 passengers who witnessed the alleged crime.

There were no Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel on the train. Railway officials said RPF teams are deployed after 10 pm, on trains and stretches that have a history of criminal incidents. The Pushpak Express reaches Kalyan well before 10 pm, and does not have a history of crime, the officials said.

The Central Railway RPF will have a review meeting on Monday on security on trains. “We will also coordinate with the Government Railway Police,” an officer said.

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