The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bullets fly inside Neelachal in dacoity-division Dhanbad

Dhanbad, Sept. 2: A passenger was shot at and several fellow travellers, including a railway employee, were injured when robbers raided the New Delhi-bound Neelachal Express before dawn between Bansinallah and Paharpur stations in the sixth train dacoity over the last one month in Dhanbad division of East-Central Railway.

The armed gang of about 25 tampered with the signal at Bansinallah station — turning it to red — forcing the driver to pull up. They broke into coach S-1 as soon as the train halted and went on a looting spree lasting around half an hour.

The commotion and the volleys fired by the robbers, who were speaking in a local dialect, roused the passengers to a terrifying ordeal. Some of them tried to resist, but were given a hiding by the gang. One passenger, S. Tarakeshwar, a railway employee travelling in the coach, was shot in the stomach when he tried to overpower some of them.

He was admitted to hospital in Gaya, the first station the train reached after continuing its journey on the insistence of passengers after a delay of more than an hour.

Senior divisional commercial manager Mohammed Owais said the robbers struck around 2 am after the train left Koderma station. The criminals also assaulted and injured a Travelling Ticket Examiner on duty, B.K. Singh, when, concerned over the unscheduled stop and the sound of gunfire, he rushed to the coach from S-3.

More than 50 passengers were cleaned out of belongings worth lakhs, railway sources said, in a train that was being escorted by a posse of Government Railway Police personnel.

Railway police sources claimed that the robbers retreated after the GRP jawans fired three rounds. They argued that had the policemen not fired, the criminals could have looted more bogies.

But railway workers at Koderma station were sceptical and said the policemen failed to act on time. “The criminals were on a looting spree for more than half an hour after stopping the train. Where were the GRP jawans who were escorting the train' Had the jawans acted on time, the incident could have been averted,” said Satrajit Singh of the East-Central Railway Karamchari Sangh.

The police sources suspect that some of the gangsters might have been travelling on the train. They said the Bansinallah station master informed the police and railway officials of the incident, after which the authorities rushed another posse of armed personnel from the Railway Protection Force to the spot.

An FIR has been lodged in connection the robbery at the Koderma government railway police station.

The strike on Neelachal Express, the most prestigious train targeted so far, follows the more bloody attack on the Hatia-Patna Express between Gomoh and Chandrapura stations and the two robberies on the Barwadih-Daltonganj-Moghulsarai passenger train near Barwadih.

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