June 3: Last night, Laloo Prasad Yadav paid a lightning visit to the New Delhi railway station and announced he would soon travel “incognito” to understand passengers’ problems.
It may be unsafe for the railway minister to do so in his own state with gangs of murderers picking out at will — and chilling regularity — trains that pass through Bihar.
A few hours after Laloo Prasad’s declaration, Shivendra Bahadur Singh lay dead on the Howrah-bound Doon Express, gunned down in front of his son by robbers who looted the running train in Gaya.
The dacoits opened fire when the passenger from Uttar Pradesh and others resisted them as they tried to loot the occupants of the S-7 sleeper coach. Ten people, including Singh’s son and some passengers from Bengal, were injured in the attack.
The robbers looted cash and valuables worth Rs 3 lakh from the 3010 (Down) Doon Express, travelling between Dehra Dun and Howrah, before getting off at Kasta station near Gaya.
Gaya station master D.. Bhagat told PTI that the robbers boarded the train at Anugraha Road Station (Aurangabad) on the Gaya-Mughalsarai section of East Central Railway.
“The dacoits boarded the train at 2 am and continued their operation for over an hour,” said Daya Shankar Mishra of Salkia in Howrah. His bandaged left arm soaked in blood, Mishra was among the injured who filed out of the train when it reached Howrah around 11 am today.
“The robbers hit me on my arm with a bhojali,” said Mishra, who works in the Calcutta Tramways Company’s traffic department. He said there was no guard in the coach when the robbers struck. “Nobody came to rescue us,” he said, breaking down.
Some of the other injured have been identified as V. Narayan Rao, V. Rajeswari Devi, Sakuntala Devi, Ramchandra Rao and S. Irshad Hossain, all aged between 50 and 70.
The record of recent months shows a steady climb in attacks on trains that cross Bihar — a state that cannot be bypassed if anyone from eastern India has to reach Delhi and the rest of northern India by train.
So far this year, as many as 78 dacoities and robberies on trains have been reported in Bihar. Last week, a BSF inspector was shot dead on the Farakka Express in Danapur.