A large group of armed robbers struck the Sealdah—New Delhi Lal Quila Express today, fired at GRP personnel, assaulted passengers and looted them near Bhalui halt in Bihar’s Lakhisarai district, leaving 21 people, including a jawan, injured.

Enraged over the incident, passengers, mostly kanwarias (devotees of Lord Shiva), shouted slogans and ransacked the office of the station master in Kiul.

Around 35 robbers boarded the train at Jamui station and walked into AC and sleeper coaches of the train and started looting cash and valuables, including jewellery and mobile phones worth Rs 2.50 lakh, from the passengers, official sources said quoting the FIR registered by six passengers.

As the unarmed GRP personnel resisted them, they opened fire critically wounding one of them. The jawan has been hospitalised at a nearby hospital, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Railway) R K Sharma said.

Passengers travelling on the reserved berths, besides the kanwariyas were assaulted by the robbers with butts of pistols and rifles when they refused to part with their belongings.

While five passengers, including three women, suffered serious injuries, 15 kanwariyas and others sustained minor injuries, sources said.

A team of doctors was called by the Railways to provide first—aid to the passengers and the train resumed the onward journey to New Delhi more than two hours behind schedule, they said.

About four to five unarmed GRP personnel were present in the train when the incident took place at around 4.45 AM, the sources said, adding “no weapons are given to the GRP personnel on the route“.

According to the sources, four robbers had earlier boarded the train at Jamui railway station, but passengers and the jawans overpowered them and caught two of them. The other two who managed to escape, alerted their accomplices and the robbery took place at the next halt.

Police sources said that of the 275 trains that need security in Bihar, only 15 per cent are patrolled by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the rest by the Bihar Police.

Senior police officials have reached the spot and raids are on to track down the robbers.

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