Ranchi, April 21: Sunday night’s robbery on a passenger train in Latehar district has further exposed the vulnerability of CIC section, which has become an easy target for criminals and Maoists alike.
A gang of six raided the Mughalsaria-Daltonganj-Barkakana (BDM) Passenger (53362) between Mahuamila and Nindra stations under East Central Railway’s Dhanbad division around 9pm, decamping with cash and valuables worth Rs 2 lakh and beating up several passengers who tried to resist them. Four were seriously injured.
The train didn’t have an escort party on board.
According to Government Railway Police (GRP) at Barkakana, one of the victims, Badri Singh, registered an FIR.
“The FIR says that the masked robbers brought the train to a halt by digging a trench near a culvert, a few kilometres from Mahuamilan station. The men then boarded the train and terrorised the passengers with sharp-edged weapons. When the passengers resisted, the beat them up severely,” said M.D. Paswan, GRP in-charge, Barkakana.
This is the third such robbery on a train in the CIC section, which was also targeted by Maoists as recently as on April 17, when six Lok Sabha constituencies of Jharkhand went to polls.
A Maoist squad had blown up 12 railway sleepers, damaging 360 metres of overhead electrical wires and bringing Barkakana-Gomoh Passenger train to an abrupt halt near Dania station, 85km from Bokaro steel city.
This apart, there were two recent cases of robberies.
In the intervening night of March 3 and 4, a gang, taking advantage of the absence of escort party, boarded the Howrah-Bhopal Express (13025) and robbed around 30 sleeper class passengers of cash and valuables worth Rs 1 lakh at Hehegara station.
Last year, robbers had gone on a looting spree at three sleeper coaches of the Bhopal-Howrah Express between Renukut and Garhwa Road stations in the small hours of December 19. That train too didn’t have a escort team.
However, the railways have done little to beef up security or ensure presence of escort parties on passenger trains travelling on the CIC section, compelling many to opt for other routes.
“I generally avoid travelling in Ranchi-Varanasi Intercity, which goes via the CIC section. I prefer the Bokaro/Gaya route instead of going via Latehar and Garhwa as both these places come under CIC section, which has become very unsafe,” said Umakant Mishra.
A Railway Protection Police officer admitted to lax vigil. “It’s difficult to provide escort party on all passenger trains due to limited number of security personnel at our disposal. The escort parties are mainly for express trains while passenger trains go unguarded,” he said.
He added that the even if security forces are deployed on a train, their number is too little compared to Maoists and criminals who attack the trains.
Manoj Ratan, superintendent of railway police, Dhanbad rail division, agreed. “The situation is likely to improve only after the personnel return from election duty. We are chalking out measures to prevent recurrence of such incidents.”