It was the monsoon month of 1989, when Arunoday was traveling from Tatanagar to New Jalpaiguri (West Bengal) by an Indian Railways train.

Arunoday arrived at the Tatanagar railway station early in the afternoon in the hope of finding a seat in the general compartment. The train was yet to arrive at the platforms and it was still getting ready in the railway yards. He decided to move towards the yards, and boarded the train in the yards itself. He chose an upper berth in one of the general compartments, and locked his suitcase with a chain to the handrail nearby. He was sitting alone in the compartment, waiting for the train’s departure to the platforms.

Mithun Chakraborty

Soon, he was joined by a man with Mithun Chakraborty styled long hair.This man seemed to be very friendly, and he soon started a conversation with Arunoday. A few minutes later, some friends of the long haired man also arrived in the compartment. They were all laughing & socializing.

The long haired man took out a box of Laddus (sweets) and offered Arunoday to eat one. He mentioned that they were coming from a marriage ceremony in Tatanagar, and these sweets are from there. Arunoday was hesitant, and therfore he politely refused.

But on the insistence of everyone, he unwillingly took one of the Laddus. Laddus were large and were probably made of Besan. By this time, he was already feeling uncomfortable, and felt that if he refused, these people might beat him to rob, as it was getting dusky and the train was still in the yards. Holding the Laddu in his hand, he sat next to the windows. The long haired man again told him to eat the Laddu, and that there’s nothing to worry. Arunoday felt, if he didn’t eat that Laddu right away, this rogue would even force the Laddu down his throat.

So, grudgingly he put a small piece of the Laddu in his mouth, telling them that he likes to eats everything very slowly. As the train was still in the yards, he got up, and told the long haired man that he is going to sleep now. He climbed on the upper berth and sat next to his locked suitcase. He sensed something was wrong with the Laddus, and therefore he decided to drink the entire bottle of water he was carrying along. He drank almost a liter of water thinking about the effects of dilution which he learned in his chemistry classes.

He hoped that the drugs in the small piece of Laddu would be diluted in the water, and may help him keep awake. He lay down on the berth and was still holding the big Laddu in his hand. The long haired man got up, and asked why doesn’t he eat the Laddu? He said he will eat it later, as now he is feeling sleepy. The long haired man angrily asked – if you don’t want to eat it then return the Laddu, somebody else can eat. Arunoday returned the Laddu, and then acted as if he was already asleep. The train started moving towards the platforms of Tatanagar junction.

Tatanagar Junction

In a few minutes, the train was standing right on platform no. 8 of the Tatanagar Junction. Many passengers now boarded the train, and some of them also arrived at the seats occupied by this group of men. They were willingly accommodated by this group, and soon tea was bought for everyone.

The mood was jovial and friendly. Everything was normal. The train now departed from the junction, and soon picked speed. The compartment was filled with laborers returning to their native places. It was getting dark. After a few rounds of tea, the boxes of Laddus surfaced. The gullible passengers were given a Laddu each by the group of men. In this mood of merriment and laughter, everybody enjoyed the overly sweet Laddus. Arunoday was feeling a bit dizzy, but he could still hear the loud conversations.

After an hour, he was woken by a big commotion. There was no light in the compartment. It was pitch dark. The train was moving very slowly towards the platforms of Asansol Junction. Under the lights of station, what he saw in the compartment was horrifying.  

Passengers were lying on their berths knocked out. Some of them were just in their underwear. Their hard earned money was stolen from their pickpocket-proof underwear pockets. Some with their mouths wide open, and frothing at their corners. They were all drugged.

The gang had vanished with all their valuables. And they had purposely cut the power supply of the compartment before doing their final act. The looted passengers had lost everything of theirs and police were nowhere to be seen. Power was soon restored.

Train left the station but some passengers were still not awake, and they were unaware that their bags, watches, and valuables were all gone. There was only one person who remained unscathed – it was Arunoday with his suitcase still chained to the handail. That day he decided he would never board a train again in railway yards.

(Thanks to Mr. P. K. P. for telling me this story)