In the last few months, the Tricity has witnessed an unusually large number of robberies and dacoities, many of which were daylight. In fact, on atleast two occasions, more than one armed robbery was reported from the same town on the same night.
While the police officials were able to crack a few cases, most of the cases remain unsolved. The cases are being investigated by the police of all the three places, Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, and all three police forces usually co-ordinate with each other for better leads.
Police sources attribute the spurt in robberies to atleast two notorious gangs which re-surfaced again this year —the dreaded Kala Kachha gang which carried out a spate of dacoities but was busted later, and the notorious gang of Highway Robbers, who were active a few years ago in the region and are suspected to have been involved in many of the recent high-profile robberies across the Tricity. Many of the other incidents, too, are linked with each other, with the same gang or gangs expected to be behind them.
August 4, 2014: While the UT police crime branch was carrying out raids in wake of Independence Day, an unknown person managed to escape with three trays of gold ornaments from Karan Jewellers, Sector 22-D, in broad daylight, after shooting the sales executive in the shop, Paramjit Singh. The accused was captured in the CCTV cameras of the store but the police was unable to locate the accused. A reward was also announced by the police for anyone who would give information about the accused. Later on, the reward was also increased to Rs 75, 000. Police had, however, zeroed in on one person, a resident of Amritsar, who was a look-alike of the accused. However, he was in police custody of Amritsar police when the incident took place.
July 24, 2014: Three farm houses, two in Mohali and one in Chandigarh, belonging to retired Director General of Punjab (DGP), Daljeet Singh Bhullar, was attacked by some people who thrashed retired Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASI), Gyan Singh, and a tenant, Babloo. The accused, who Mohali police later claimed to have arrested, robbed gold jewellery and cash worth Rs 40, 000.
June 27, 2014: A gang of seven men, carrying sharp-edged weapons and a pistol, looted Rs 5 lakh from a cash van outside a State Bank of Patiala branch in Khuda Ali Sher. A Fortuner car was used by the accused, which was snatched days before the incident from a resident of Sector 15. Hours after the incident, the car was found abandoned in Panchkula bearing two hammers, a knife and a butcher’s knife. The box in which the cash was being taken to the bank was also found near Kishangarh. The police have been going through all the regional newspapers to know about similar cases of robbery, but to no avail.
May 21, 2014: A bus carrying devotees of Vaishno Devi had its passengers alleging that on the way to Delhi, they were drugged and their bags stolen. The incident was reported at ISBT-43. As per the allegations, the driver and the conductor, along with some other people, drugged the passengers at Katgarh and stole their belongings. On May 24, Chandigarh police sent the complaints and a copy of the Daily Diary Report (DDR) to the concerned police officials in Sujanpur City in Pathankot district of Punjab for investigating the case.
August 22, 2014: Two armed robbers looted Rs 9 lakh and other articles from a cash collection van outside a liquor vend in Sector 25 at around 11 pm. They also fired a shot in the attempt but no one was injured. The only lead the police have is that a similar incident occurred in Mohali on the night of July 18, when a few miscreants confiscated a cash collection van at gunpoint and later, abandoned it after stealing all the cash. A Mohali crime branch team also reached the spot for possible leads, but both the incidents continue to puzzle the police. In both the incidents, robbers struck at a time when the collection vans had already collected money from most of the vends. Also, in both the incidents, the accused spoke in Punjabi.
July 13, 2014: In a case of broad daylight robbery, four armed men and a woman wearing helmets, barged into a jewellery shop in Sector 5 Mansa Devi Complex (MDC), tied up the shop owner’s father and two other employees, and ran away with jewellery worth Rs 50 lakh and a Swift car. The employees were first blinded by the use of chilli powder, and then tied up with a rope at gunpoint. A case was registered at the police station in Mansa Devi. The investigation is going on, and the police suspect the role of a gang called the Highway Robbers.
March 11, 2014: In an incident that took place at Industrial Area in Phase 1, passengers of a car were robbed of Rs 1.28 lakh and bank drafts worth Rs 18 lakh. The car of the accused trailed a Toyota showroom vehicle and hit it from the rear end. Deepak, 30, and his colleague Pradeep, 29, were in the dealership’s demo car, on their way to deposit the day’s collection in a bank, when the incident occurred. Five gunshots were fired by the accused when the victims refused to roll down the glass. Both Deepak and Pradeep were seriously injured in the incident. The investigation is on, and there have been no arrests so far. There were three eye-witnesses in the case too.
December 9, 2013: Four robbers in Punjab police uniform looted Rs 1.68 crore from CMS company’s security van at gunpoint on the Chandigarh-Baddi Highway. The incident happened in the afternoon, when the cash van was on its way to cater to the ATMs located at Barotiwala-Baddi area. The four accused stopped the cash van, threw chilly powder on the CMS employees and took away the cash box containing Rs 1.68 crore. Punjab police had zeroed in on three gangs from Punjab for their involvement, including the notorious Jaipal gang. Some sketches were also released and investigation is on.
September 19, 2014 : Four robbers armed with a pistol robbed a doctor couple of their sedan in Phase 5 late at night after firing several shots in the air. The victim also received a minor injury while resisting the attempt. Leaving the couple stranded on the road, the miscreants took off in the car and hit a motorcyclist later while fleeing the town. The police prepared sketches, and initially suspected it to be the handiwork of a gang which had struck in Ludhiana a few months ago, due to similar modus operandi. They have been keeping a tab on all recovered stolen vehicles in the region, but no progress has been made so far. On October 2, a similar incident occurred near Siswan, at the Punjab-Himachal border, but the police are clueless in both the cases.
August 19, 2014: In a daring daylight robbery, three masked and armed youths entered a house in Phase 6 and at gunpoint, robbed 410 g of jewellery and cash worth Rs 12,000. They left the two women present in the house gagged and locked before escaping. The police have failed to get a clue so far, except that the robbers spoke in Punjabi and were professionals as they had erased their fingerprints before leaving the house. They are also suspected to have studied the routine of the family members.
July 26, 2014: The dreaded Kala Kachha gang struck at three places in quick succession near Zirakpur. They targeted an orchard, a farmhouse and a religious place and injured six people, including three women, before decamping with some cash, jewellery and odd items during the intervening night of July 25 and 26. As this was the third incident involving the same gang in less than a month, the police stepped up vigil and soon arrested nine out of twelve members of this gang. The estimated loss was around Rs 25,000 in cash, some ornaments worn by the victims, wheat bags, cycles and other odd items.
July 24, 2014: This time, the Kala Kachha gang struck at two farmhouses located within 50 m of each other in Parch village near the UT-Punjab border, before heading off to commit a third dacoity in an ex-DGP’s farmhouse in Chandigarh. They looted cash, jewellery and other items, and thrashed and tied up the victims before fleeing. It was a particularly audacious attempt by the gang as they had told the victims of the first case that they were going to rob the neighbouring farmhouse too. However, while they were in the second farmhouse, the victims gathered and rushed towards them, due to which they had fled. Surprisingly, they committed a third dacoity some time later, even though both Chandigarh and Mohali police had arrived at the first two spots. The gang was later busted, with the arrest of nine of its members. The estimated loss was Rs 10,000, jewellery, cycle and other odd items at the two farmhouses in Mohali.
July 18/19, 2014: Two major armed robberies were reported in the heart of the town during the intervening night of July 18 and 19. In the first incident, atleast three assailants robbed a cash collection van containing around Rs 10 lakh from outside a liquor shop in Sector 70, after injuring a salesman in the shop —all within minutes. The car, sans the cash, was found dumped nearby the next morning. There was no CCTV footage in the area, and the police are yet to get a clue even after releasing sketches of the suspects. The same morning, two masked and armed robbers entered a house in Phase 3-B2 and looted around Rs 40,000 and a few items, after leaving the family tied and locked in the bathroom. According to police sources, the only clue they have is that a neighbour had seen a suspicious looking car having two occupants parked outside the victims’ house a few hours before the incident took place. The case has not been cracked.
June 28, 2014: This was the first case of dacoity by the Kala Kachha gang this year. The gangsters targetted a guava orchard near Rurkee village (near Gharuan) and thrashed and injured five people of a family, before fleeing with cash and jewellery worth lakhs. After the attack, panic gripped the area as word spread that the notorious gang had resurfaced. Nine members of the gang were later arrested by the police. The estimated loss was over Rs 1 lakh in cash and jewellery worth several thousand rupees, besides other items.
June 26, 2014: Three unidentified assailants barged into a house in Lalru during the intervening night of June 25 and 26 and decamped with some cash and jewellery, after leaving the lone occupant of the house, a widow, bound and gagged. The police are yet to make any headway into the case. The estimated loss was Rs 5,000 and some gold and silver ornaments.
May 5, 2014: In a daring daylight robbery, three masked and armed miscreants barged into the Derabassi Post Office and robbed Rs 2 lakh. While the crime remains unsolved, the police managed to arrest another gang involved in two robberies that had taken place around that time —one in Mullanpur on April 17, and another in Nayagaon on February 4. In both the cases, the robbers shot at jewellers returning home after work and decamped with jewellery and cash worth lakhs, injuring their victims in both the incidents.
February 14: Two armed miscreants shot at a cashier in a liquor shop in Lakhnaur when he was about to close the shop. They decamped with cash worth Rs 20,000, while the victim was severely injured after receiving a bullet injury in his chest. The case remains unsolved.
February 4, 2014: Six armed dacoits entered a property consultant’s house in Phase 3-B1 and fled with around Rs 40 lakh and some jewellery, after leaving the family tied and gagged, and injuring one person. This incident is significant as the gang which had struck at a jewellers’ shop in MDC, Panchkula, on July 13, and looted Rs 5 lakh from outside a bank in Khuda Ali Sher on June 27, is suspected to behind the case due to similar modus operandi. In all three cases, the accused used chilli powder, tied their victims and are suspected to have used stolen cars. Incidentally, hours earlier, a jeweller in Nayagaon was shot at, injured and robbed of Rs 1.5 lakh and some jewellery by three armed robbers who were later arrested.
January 29, 2014: Mohammad Nafeez alias ‘Kala’, a munshi with a contractor of a meat plant in Lalru, was found brutally murdered at his office in a robbery attempt in which the assailants decamped with his vehicle and Rs 28 lakh. On February 8, the police cracked the case and arrested a former supplier of the contractor, recovering Rs 26 lakh and the stolen car from him.