| A shattered glass window of an AC compartment of Purvanchal Express at Jhajha in Jamui on Thursday night. Picture by Amit Kumar |
Jhajha (Jamui), Aug. 8: The 63-km Maoist-hit stretch on the Kiul-Asansol main section of Eastern Railway has turned into a haven for dacoits striking trains.
Around 24 armed robbers targeted the 15047 Up Kolkata-Gorakhapur Purvanchal Express on its way to Jhajha around 9pm between Tulshitard and Lahavan stations on Thursday. The crime spot is around 280km southeast of Patna.
The robbers pulled the chain of the train and looted valuables worth Rs 12 lakh from the AC-three tier passengers of B-1 and AC two-tier passengers of A-1 bogeys.
According to eyewitnesses, women passengers were their prime target. B.B. Yadav, a sub-inspector-rank officer of Railway Protection Force (Asansol), suffered dagger-cut injuries in the hands of the criminals.
Umashanker Prasad, the superintendent of railway police (SRP), Jamalpur, said: “The train reached Jhajha around 12.45am today after it was forcibly stopped for more than three hours by the robbers. Since they cut the vacuum pipes of eight compartments, the driver, assistant driver and the guard of the train, were busy repairing the faults. This is why the train was delayed. We reached the spot to escort the train to Jhajha when Government Railway Police (GRP) personnel from Jasidih arrived, too, on the spot. They sent the injured RPF official and a woman passenger to Deoghar for medical aid.”
The train was supposed to reach Jhajha at 9.05pm. No arrests have been made yet.
Since the area falls under the jurisdiction of GRP, Jasidih (Jharkhand), the victims’ statements have been sent to them to institute an FIR.
Prasad’s Dhanbad counterpart Manoj Ratan Choutham visited Jasidih and said the GRP is investigating the case with the help of Bihar personnel.
Daily commuters said crimes like snatching and molestations were on the rise on the Kiul-Asansol main section in the past year.
“Late-night trains have become easy targets for criminals because of absence of GRP and RPF personnel,” said Manoj Kumar, a daily commuter on the Jhajha route.
Umashanker Prasad admitted that GRP personnel man the trains from Jhajha to Barauni on the main section via Mokama on the west of Jhajha. But escort on the eastern side of Jamui was withheld completely during late nights after the Maoist attacked the Dhanbad-Patna Intercity Express on April 13, 2013, at Kundar halt.
“The railway tracks from Jhajha to Lahavan (in the eastern direction) passes through the most inaccessible terrains where rebels have killed cops and looted their weapons. We have instructions not to venture out in that zone,” Prasad said.
He added that it was the responsibility of Jasidih GRP to provide escort up to Jhajha but they too avoid the route.