Malda, Sept. 26: At least 15 passengers of the Sealdah-bound Gaur Express were injured tonight when they tried to fight off armed dacoits and caught two of the gang, while those in a police mobile van – just a coach away – slept through the 30-minute ordeal.
Seven passengers were reported to be seriously injured in the brawl with the seven-member gang that was armed with firearms and choppers.
The robbery that began around 9 pm spanned two districts and had its origin at Malda, the terminus, where the dacoits boarded an unreserved compartment, posing as passengers.
Soon after the train left Khaltipur, within the jurisdiction of Malda’s Kaliachak police station, the dacoits went into action.
The robbers first asked the passengers to give up their valuables and, at the first signs of resistance, started hitting them with the sharp-edged weapons. They also opened fire at the “more recalcitrant” passengers, officials said.
The train, which left Malda after 7.15 pm, reached Farakka around 9.30 pm, the officials said. The gang members tried to leave the train through the doors away from the platform.
But the passengers mustered courage to thwart the escape and capture two gang members.
They were handed over to the Government Railway Police office at the station and an FIR was lodged. Both the arrested were from Kaliachak of Malda, the officials said.
Some of the injured passengers were given first aid and allowed to proceed but seven are being treated at the National Thermal Power Corporation’s hospital near the railway station in Murshidabad district.
The affected train’s journey to Calcutta was delayed further by a gherao of the station superintendent’s office by agitated passengers who refused to accept the “deliberate inaction” by security personnel. Accusing the personnel on the mobile van of “working with” the dacoits, enraged passengers laid siege to the station superintendent’s office for some time.
Passengers of the New Jalpaiguri-bound Darjeeling Mail had a close call this morning with a railway employee detecting fissures in the tracks 30 minutes before the train was to pass through. (Full report on Page 10)