Snake charmers sparked panic on a packed express train in India after releasing their deadly reptiles when passengers refused to pay them enough.
The four busking charmers had hopped on the Chambal Express between Howrah and Gwalior to perform for passengers on 9th September.
But when their unimpressed audience refused to pay up, the charmers took their revenge by releasing the deadly snakes, reports local media.
Passenger Dheeraj Kumar, from Uttar Pradesh, told how the charmers had got on the train at Banda station and got off an hour later at Mahoba.
He said passengers were terrified when the first snake’s head appeared, swaying out of a basket as one of the charmers played his gourd flute.
Kumar said: “They then demanded cash, and some passengers offered money, while others declined.”
The disappointment over their earnings sparked a heated dispute between the charmers and passengers.
Dheeraj and: “At one point, they suddenly released the snakes within the compartment.”
The release caused panic, with some passengers fighting to climb into higher sleeping berths while others locked themselves into loos.
It only ended when one passenger phoned the railway control room.
Akhilesh Pratap Singh, the officer in charge of the Government Railway Police at Mahoba station, confirmed the drama.
Singh said: “We interviewed passengers at Mahoba railway station, and they corroborated the incident.
“The snakes did not bite any passengers but did induce considerable distress.”
The snake charmers eventually recaptured the snakes they had released and got off the train, which went on to continue its journey.
Singh indicated that the snake charmers would face legal penalties if they could be identified.