Ranchi, May 7: Armed men posing as railway police killed a constable and an army jawan travelling by the Hatia-Jammu Tawi Express before fleeing with two rifles and cash looted from passengers in a late-night strike in Dhanbad division.
One Government Railway Police constable was injured in the attack near Tori railway station, 150 km from here. No one has been arrested so far.
The incident occurred around midnight. About 15 armed men knocked on the doors of the express posing as GRP personnel. Once inside, they locked the doors and started looting the passengers. Sources, however, said their intention was to loot the weapons of the GRP constables.
The criminals opened fire at the two constables, identified as Kailash Prasad Yadav and Bakasi Yadav. While the former died on the way to hospital, Bakasi Yadav has been admitted to the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences.
Army jawan S.S. Dubey, who was travelling by the train, heard the shots and tried to catch one of the criminals, but was shot dead. The miscreants snatched two SLRs and about 40 cartridges from the GRP men. Police said they also looted about Rs 50,000 from the passengers. Police sources said the attackers were in uniform, which could mean they were members of the rebel Maoist Communist Centre.
The attack has again raised questions about passenger safety. In February, a gang of robbers had broken into the air-conditioned sleeper compartment of the Ranchi-Bhagalpur Vananchal Express near Phularitand station. However, three of them were shot dead by the bodyguards of a BJP legislator who was in the coach.
Railway authorities of the Ranchi division have reacted strongly to last night’s incident. “With this incident, the safety of the passengers is at stake again. The Ranchi division of the South Eastern Railway has decided to switch over to the Railway Police Force (RPF) from July,” said an official.
Railway sources admitted that five to six GRP men guarding an express train was not adequate. “How can six men guard an entire train' How are they going to face 15 to 20 extremists charging at them with modern weapons'” said divisional commercial manager D. Kullu.
“Trains have become a soft target for extremists. The GRP men are not serious about their work. They don’t patrol. Often they just capture the AC compartments and go off to sleep,” said an official.
One passenger said travelling by train was becoming increasingly risky. “But the common man does not have a choice.”
However, officials were optimistic that the RPF would solve the problem. “The GRP is under the command of the State Railway Police. But the RPF will be under our direct command. We are going to ensure that they constantly patrol all the compartments,” said an official.