Kolkata: BSF staff on duty ahead of the departure of the Bandhan Express passenger train between India and Bangladesh as service resumed after a hiatus of more than two years due to the pandemic, from Kolkata railway station en route to Khulna in neighboring Kolkata on May 29, 2022. (Photo: Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS)
Kolkata, October 17 (IANS) The Ministry of Railways is giving serious thought to the redeployment of Railway Protection Force (RPF) commandos on prime trains like Rajdhani, Shatabdi and Duronto passing on certain routes after Sunday’s armed robbery on board of the New Delhi-Howrah Duronto Express in Bihar.
This train was to be escorted by armed contingents of the Government Railway Police (GRP) at night. Passengers, however, complained that GRP groups got off at Patna station where the train arrived around 1 a.m. on Sunday.
As many as 20 armed robbers boarded the train shortly after it departed from Patna station heading for Howrah and looted the belongings of passengers in 7-8 coaches at gunpoint. Many passengers staged a protest at Howrah station after the train reached its destination, demanding better protection.
“It was extremely scary. Criminals pointed guns at passengers and looted everything they could get their hands on. If that can happen on a Duronto Express, what about other trains? People pay dearly for tickets on these trains and deserve adequate protection.The railroads claim that law and order is the duty of state governments, but the states argue that they don’t have the manpower Why should passengers suffer because of all this,” one passenger said after getting off at Howrah.
According to a senior Railway Board official, the matter was taken seriously and discussions began on the possibility of deploying special RPF teams end-to-end on these trains passing through certain states. Reports were requested from senior RPF officials at the East Central Railway. At one point, the Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express from Howrah and Sealdah passing through Bihar were escorted by RPF commandos. No untoward incidents were reported when such an escort was provided. The commandos were withdrawn after Nitish Kumar took office as Chief Minister of Bihar and the law and order situation improved.
A Bihar lawmaker, however, said there was no need for a knee-jerk reaction. “Every effort is being made to trace the gang involved. We also suspect that it may be a political plot to tarnish the image of the JD(U)-RJD coalition which is currently in power in Bihar.” , did he declare.