Ramashankar, TT, Patna, April 9: More than a dozen armed robbers looted passengers in three coaches of the Rajdhani Express from New Delhi in the wee hours today in Uttar Pradesh.
At least six passengers travelling in the A4, B7 and B8 coaches were robbed of cash, jewellery, mobile phones and wallets containing ID proofs such as PAN, voter ID and Aadhaar cards and driving licences, senior police officers said.
Three passengers who resisted the robbers were thrashed and received minor injuries.
Police suspect the robbers barged into the coaches at Mughalsarai station and got off near the outer signal of Gahmar station of the East Central Railway (ECR), around 151km west of Patna and close to the Bihar border in Uttar Pradesh.
The train had stopped at Gahmar - in Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh - for about 25 minutes for signal clearance due to some technical fault, authoritative sources said.
Patna resident Manisha Agrawal, who was robbed of her mobile phone, cash and jewellery, said the dacoits entered the B7 coach around 3.30am, woke up the passengers and ordered them to part with their purses and wallets.
"We had no option but to follow their diktats as they were carrying deadly weapons and were threatening to shoot us," she added.
Another passenger A. Kumar, who was also travelling in the B7 coach, said he lost his mobile phone and there were several passengers who were relieved of valuables worth lakhs of rupees.
It was not clear how the dacoits managed to enter the coach, but some of the passengers suspect a coach attendant may have been in cahoots with the robbers.
"The involvement of a coach attendant in the crime can't be ruled out," said a passenger who did not want to be identified. "He had opened the gate of coach to facilitate the criminals to escape."
When the train reached Patna Junction, passengers vociferously protested the lack of security. Government railway police (GRP) swung into action and senior officials including Patna superintendent of rail police (SRP) Jitendra Mishra reached Patna Junction to pacify the agitated passengers.
Six railway protection force (RPF) personnel who were assigned to escort the train were suspended for dereliction of duty after agitated passengers raised a hue and cry when the train reached Patna Junction at 7am. Sanjay Paswan, attendant of the A4 coach, was also arrested after an FIR was lodged at the Patna GRP station on the statement of the victims.
RPF commandant C.M. Mishra confirmed the disciplinary action against the six RPF personnel - a sub-inspector and five constables.
Mishra added: "It is up to the investigating officials to ascertain the role of the coach attendant, whose credibility has been questioned by some of the passengers."
At around 8:30am, railway minister Suresh Prabhu tweeted: "Directed DG RPF to take up with DG police Bihar, take serious action on dacoits who attack passengers on trains, law &order very impt issue." Around two minutes later, he tweeted again: "Directed Chairman Rail take up with chief secy Bihar, Dacoits who attack passengers on trains, law & order very imp issue."
Patna SRP Mishra said that the complaint lodged at the Patna GRP would be transferred to the Allahabad SRP, because the robbery happened in that jurisdiction.
"I spoke to the SRP Allahabad and the SHO (station house officer) of Mughalsarai GRP and informed about the incident," Mishra added.
Officials at Bihar police headquarters also said the UP GRP would investigate the robbery.
SRP Mishra said the railway authorities had been requested to check footage of CCTV cameras fitted at Mughalsarai station as the robbers might have boarded the train there.
ECR chief public relations officer Arvind Kumar Rajak said the robbery occurred between 3.29am and 3.55am.
Last week, passengers on the Ranchi-bound Jaynagar-Ranchi Express were robbed of their belongings near Rajendra railway overbridge in Begusarai district, and the police complaint was lodged after one of the victims tweeted to the railway minister alleging callous attitude of the GRP in registering their complaint.