Dhanbad, Feb. 11: Three robbers of a gang that broke into the air-conditioned sleeper compartment of the Ranchi-Bhagalpur Vananchal Express were today shot dead by the bodyguards of a BJP legislator who was in the same coach.
The two bodyguards of the legislator, Arun Mandal, a police sub-inspector, and two passengers were injured in the shootout. Mandal, who was on his way back from Ranchi to his constituency, Rajmahal, escaped unhurt.
Witnesses and railway police sources said five armed men had boarded a second class compartment from Chandrapura railway station in Bokaro district. Around 6.30 pm, when the train had just left Phularitand station, they broke into the air-conditioned compartment and threatened to shoot the passengers unless they parted with their belongings.
“Soon there was a commotion. We were taken aback but in a split second decided to retaliate when they suddenly opened fire from country-made weapons,” Ashok Paswan, one of the injured bodyguards, said soon after the train reached Dhanbad around 7.45 pm.
While two of the robbers were killed in the firing, one was lynched by the passengers, railway police sources claimed. The other two robbers escaped under the cover of darkness. A police sub-inspector, Rajdeo Singh, was hit on the head by the butt of a revolver when he tried to stop the fleeing gangsters.
The injured passengers, identified as Pradeep Kotriwal and Manju Kotriwal, are said to be out of danger.
“We never knew that such an incident could take place in the AC compartment of the train. But then we were confident when we saw the two armed bodyguards of the legislator. All the five men were between 20 and 30 and were speaking fluent Hindi, which suggests they were locals,” said Prashant Kumar, a relative of the officer in-charge of the Katras railway police who was travelling by the same train.
There was commotion at Katras station from where the information about the incident was flashed to senior officials of the state government and the railways. Railway Protection Force commandant Nurul Hoda, superintendent of railway police Sampat Meena and deputy superintendent of police (law and order) Sudershan Mandal rushed to Dhanbad station.
Policemen recorded the statement of the passengers and the legislator and the train was detained for a long time.