Around 12 armed men robbed the Madhya Pradesh finance minister, his wife and other passengers inside a moving train in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday, bringing the focus back on India’s poor rail safety record.
Police said the men, who boarded the Jabalpur-Nizamuddin Express at Mathura, knocked on the door of the air-conditioned coupe Jayant Malaiya and his wife, Sudha Malaiya, were travelling in, with one of the robbers introducing himself as the ticket examiner.
When the door opened, the masked men barged in and looted the couple at gunpoint, threatening to hurt them if they tried to resist. The robbers escaped after pulling an alarm-chain to stop the train.
Experts say while India’s state-owned rail network is the main mode of long-distance travel for millions, safety measures remain woefully inadequate.
“We were in our compartment when someone knocked on the door. Around five to six men barged in when I opened the door”, Sudha told media persons in Delhi.
Asked about the response of the RPF, she said “because of RPF other passengers were saved. Train was stopped due to chain pulling and when the RPF men came the robbers left.”
The minister lodged a police complaint when the train reached Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin station, saying the robbers took `50,000 in cash, some gold ornaments, a diamond ring and other valuables.
“Since the incident took place under Mathura GRP’s (Government Railway Police) jurisdiction the case would be transferred to them for further investigation,” said sub-inspector Kushal Pal of the GRP at Hazrat Nizamuddin.
Railway spokesperson Anil Saxena said three Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel who were escorting the train had been suspended.
All the robbers were dressed in the same manner and had covered their faces with a piece of cloth.
(With agency inputs)