A 22-year-old jawan of the 16 Sikh Light Infantry,alongwith an accomplice,was arrested by the police on Sunday for allegedly conspiring to loot a bank and a cash van in Ropar.
Sepoy Balvir Singh told the police that he hatched the scheme in connivance with his friend,Charanjit Singh,to make a quick buck and planned to strike in a day or two. A Kalashnikov and 68 cartridges,allegedly stolen by Balvir from his unit deployed at Naushera in Jammu and Kashmir,were also recovered from the duo.
I was fed up with the pittance I receive from the Army. It was becoming difficult for me to feed my family. We planned to loot the HDFC Bank at College Road and ICICI Banks cash van, said Balvir.
Senior Superintendent of Police R N Doke said the accused had surveyed the area and the movements of the cash van and the guards. Charanjit runs a welding shop near the HDFC bank and observed all the activities. The two followed the cash van for three days. They had also devised an escape route, he added.
According to the police,Balvir Singh stole the gun of one Havaldar Billu Singh from the barracks in June 2008. I was coming home on leave and hid the gun and ammunition in my belongings. I showed the gun to Charanjit and asked him to arrange for a buyer. But we could not dispose of it. Then,we decided to commit the dacoities, Balvir told the police.
When Balvir returned on his second stint of leave,from December 23 to January 20,he handed over 18 cartridges to Charanjit.
On Sunday,CIA officials received a tip-off about the conspiracy and a team was constituted under the supervision of CIA Incharge Sub-inspector Gurcharan Singh. The team raided the house of Balvir Singh and arrested the duo.
The police have informed the Army officers about the arrest.
A source in the Northern Command said: A court of inquiry was ordered soon after the gun went missing from the unit. The arrest will help us in finalising the inquiry and bring the culprit to justice.