Railway cop Chetan Singh, accused of shooting dead his senior and three passengers on a Jaipur-Mumbai train, had told his colleagues hours before the incident that he was feeling unwell.
He wanted to get off the train, but was told to complete his shift. This made him furious and sparked an altercation, during which he allegedly tried to choke one of his colleagues.
Ghanshyam Acharya, a constable with Railway Protection Force who was on duty on the superfast train Sunday night with Singh and Assistant Sub-Inspector Tikaram Meena, has narrated to the police the events that led to the shocking incident that left Mr Meena and three others dead.
Narrating the shocking events of the night, Mr Acharya has told police that he was on escort duty with Mr Meena (58), constable Narendra Parmar (58) and Singh (33). They boarded the Mumbai-bound train at Surat around 2.53 am, Singh and Mr Meena were on duty in the air-conditioned compartments and he and Mr Parmar were in the sleeper coach, Mr Acharya has told police.
“Around half an hour after we started, I went to ASI Meena to submit a report. Constable Chetan Singh and three ticket inspectors were with him. ASI Meena told me that Chetan Singh is not feeling well. I touched him to see if he was running a fever. I could not figure it out. Chetan Singh wanted to get off the train at the next station. ASI Meena was telling him that he had at least two hours of duty left.”
Mr Acharya said the 33-year-old cop was “in no mood to listen”. “Mr Meena then called our Inspector and he instructed that the Mumbai Central control room be informed. Officials at the control room, too, said Chetan Singh must complete his duty and then get treated in Mumbai. ASI Meena tried to explain this to Chetan Singh, but he was not listening,” the Railway cop has said in his statement.
Mr Acharya said Mr Meena asked him to get a cold drink for Singh, but he did not take it.
“ASI Meena then told me to take Chetan Singh’s rifle and let him rest. So I took him to the B4 coach and asked him to lie down on an empty seat and sat on the next seat. But Chetan Singh did not sleep for long. About 10 minutes later, he started asking for his rifle. I refused and asked him to rest. He was enraged and he tried to choke me. I was overpowered and he snatched the rifle in my hand and left. I realised he had taken my rifle by mistake,” Mr Acharya has told police.
He has said in his statement that he immediately informed his superiors. Soon after, he and ASI Meena went to Singh and told him about the weapon mix-up. “He returned my weapon and took his. His face was flushed with anger. ASI Meena was trying to explain him, but he was arguing. He was not listening to us. So I left the place,” he has said. “As I was leaving, I saw him removing the safety catch in his rifle. I understood he was in a mood to open fire. I told ASI Meena and he asked Singh to calm down. A little later, I left,” the railway cop has told police.
Mr Acharya has said that around 5.25 am, the train reached Vaitarna station. “I got a call from an RPF batchmate who told me that ASI Meena has been shot. I asked him how he knew. He said a coach attendant had told him. I ran towards coach B5. Some passengers were running towards me. They were in fear. They told me that Chetan Singh had shot ASI Meena. I called constable Narendra Parmar and ensured he is fine. I also alerted the control room.”
The railway cop has told police that he spotted Singh near coach B1. “He was holding the rifle and his face was filled with rage. I felt he may shoot me too. So I turned around. About 10 minutes later, someone pulled the chain. I checked an app and found that the train was between Mira Road and Dahisar station. I peeked out from behind the coach door and saw Chetan Singh. He was holding the gun and looked ready to fire,” Mr Acharya has said.
The railway constable has told police that he asked passengers to shut the windows and put their heads down. “I could hear gunshots. I hid in the bathroom. When I came out minutes later, I saw Chetan Singh walking on the tracks. He was still holding the rifle. The train started about 15 minutes later,” he said.
Mr Acharya has said that as he walked towards coaches B5 and B6., he saw three passengers covered in blood. “At Borivali station, railway police personnel used stretchers to move those shot to the platform. One of them was my team leader ASI Meena. When they were moved to the platform, it was clear that they are no more,” he has said.
Two of the dead passengers have been identified as Ajgar Abbas Shaikh, 48, and Abdul Kadarbhai Mohammed Hussain Bhanpurwala, 62.
Singh tried to flee, but was caught. He has been put under arrest and a high-level probe is on. A senior officer has told the media that he had a short fuse. “He was quite hot-headed. He just lost his temper and shot his senior, then fired at whoever he saw,” Inspector General of RPF (Western Railway) Praveen Sinha said yesterday.
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