This robbery should qualify as the greatest train robbery in the country: A gang took away Rs 5.8 crore from a moving Salem-Chennai Express after cutting through the roof of a sealed mail coach. A police team supposed to guard the cash was travelling in a neighboring coach, unaware of the hold-up, which took place in the intervening night of Monday-Tuesday.
The 19-coach train left Salem at 9pm on Monday night, when the mail van was second after the engine. At Virudhachalam, the engine changed position and the mail van became the last coach of the formation. The train reached Chennai around 4am on Tuesday. It was then sent to the yard and later to the Egmore station where the parcel office is located.
The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had booked the coach to transport barred currencies worth Rs 342 crore in 226 boxes. Four of them were found to have been prized open. Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) are clueless about the robbery group and how they carried out the process. Investigators are looking at the possibility of an insider’s role.
Around 11am, when RBI officials came to collect the cash, they found sunlight streaming in through a 2x2ft opening on the roof. The square piece of metal cut off the roof was on the coach floor. Cash was littered on the floor and four boxes were open. One box was emptied out, while another was half empty.
The opening, robbery group made was just enough for a person to slip through. A source in RBI said the bank transports cash at least once a week from southern parts of the state to Chennai. Indian Overseas Bank (IOB), one of the three banks whose soiled notes were being transported, said these notes were not usable.
RPF has registered a case while GRP is assisting in the probe. Senior railway officials suppose a person who is aware of the loading pattern and train route helped the robbers plan the robbery. Senior officials feel someone familiar with parcel loading may be involved in the planning of the hold-up.