Delhi Metro | Undetected, man’s body rots in tunnel of airport express line for months

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New Delhi: A man’s decomposed body was found inside a highly protected tunnel of the Delhi Metro’s airport line between the New Delhi and Shivaji Stadium stations, bringing to light a possible security breach. Police said it appeared the body had been there for at least four-five months as it was reduced to bones, but they could not explain how it might have got there and the possible cause of death.

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) staff noticed the body in the early hours of February 9, when train operations had ended and they were on a routine track inspection, police said. As the officials got close to the passage between two tracks, they encountered a foul smell. Close to the shaft that opened to the ground level, they found the highly decomposed body.

“The station controller of the New Delhi Metro station went inside the tunnel for routine maintenance around 1.30am on February 9. The body was found around 300 metres from the platform of the station. The track inspection is a routine affair but how the staff missed the body for months is a mystery,” said an officer of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), requesting anonymity. The CISF is responsible for the security of Metro stations.

The DMRC said the area where the body was found is away from the tracks. “The area is in an emergency shaft of a cross-passage, which opens at the ground level and is not in a regular operational area. Access to this area is through the ground level, which is cordoned off and thus detection was difficult,” said a spokesperson.

The airport line is covered with platform screen doors, making the tracks inaccessible. The CCTVs there have not been of any help as they don’t store footage for more than 30 days. No one knows how and when the man entered the tunnel.

Following the discovery of the body, police were called and a Delhi police and CISF joint team inspected the area. A forensic team was then called to collect samples so that the body could be identified.

The 22.7km airport Metro line connects the New Delhi railway station to Dwarka Sector 21. Except for the Dhaula Kuan-Delhi Ridge stretch, the line is underground, running through tunnels that go as deep as 18 metres. Security and maintenance staff enter the tunnel through the gates at the end of the platforms, the keys of which are with the station controller.

Police said it seemed highly unlikely that the person entered the tunnel through the station as the access is restricted to authorised staff. Police said there have been no complaints of any staff member missing, thus ruling out that the deceased could have been a CISF or Metro worker.

Delhi police have launched an investigation and a senior officer said possible loopholes in security need to be plugged.

“It is difficult to find from where the man entered. We have preserved the DNA samples and are checking if anyone from the area near the New Delhi station is missing. Once the body is identified, the cause of death can be established,” said a police officer. No case has been filed yet.

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