Was there a railway insider aiding the gang that broke into the Salem-Chennai Express and took away 5.78 crore? And did the robbers know that the currency was soiled and thus unusable? The police are probing these angles in the ongoing investigation of the train heiston Tuesday.
An amount of Rs 5.78 crore was stolen from 4 boxes out of the 226 boxes on a VPH (high capacity parcel van) from Indian Overseas Bank Salem to RBI Chennai. The incident had come to light only by Tuesday noon even though the train arrived at Chennai Egmore at 4 am.
Railway police and senior officials feel someone familiar with parcel loading and the pattern of the train's operation may be involved in the planning of the heist.
"The train was carrying soiled notes for pulping at RBI," a senior official confirmed to The Times of India. The VPH was taken to Chetpet Railway yard after the train reached Egmore and around 10 am, it was then taken to Egmore parcel shed, where it was parked till RBI officials arrived in the morning," a senior official said to The Times of India.
A 4 square feet hole, through which a person could enter, was found drilled on the roof of the mail van, which was carrying soiled currencies worth Rs. 342 crore from Salem to Chennai on the Salem Express. It was to be deposited in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The preliminary suspicion of investigators is that the hole could have been drilled as the train traversed the un-electrified 137-km Salem-Virudhachalam route as the daredevil on roof would not have to be bothered of the 25,000 volt over-head electric lines.
The mail coach was attached to the engine when it started from Salem at 9pm. At Virudhachalam (11:55pm), the engine position changed and the mail coach became the last coach, behind the guard coach. “The guard could possibly not have heard the cutting sound. The crime was planned smartly after collecting all information,” said a senior official of Southern Railway to The Times of India.
An official in the Salem division said there was a seven-hour gap between loading the boxes in the yard and the train's departure from Salem.