Panic gripped the area near the Chandigarh-Punjab border after a gang of seven or eight men, armed with sticks, struck at three farmhouses in quick succession on Wednesday night, thrashed the caretakers and took away about Rs 50,000 in cash, some jewellery and other items.
The gang first raided two farmhouses near Parch village, close to Mullanpur in Punjab, then went to the third, owned by a former DGP of Punjab Police Daljeet Singh Bhullar, across the border at Khuda Lahora village in Chandigarh. Police suspect the raids were carried out by the same Kala Kachha gang which had targeted a farmhouse near Gharuan on June 28.
The assailants, who were clad only in underwear and had their faces covered with clothes taken from the first farmhouse, broke both arms of the caretaker at Bhullar’s farmhouse. However, other victims escaped with minor injuries.
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The gang, which spoke a Hindi dialect common among some nomadic tribes, first arrived at Captain Rajpal Farmhouse around 11.30 pm. They broke open the door and immediately started thrashing Jai Singh ‘Bhola’ Yadav, 32, before tying him up. They also thrashed Jai Singh’s wife Girija but spared their two children.
They collected the couple’s Rs 6,000, some jewellery, including the items which Girija was wearing, some kitchen items and also a cycle. Before leaving, they again thrashed the couple, asked names of the family members staying in an adjacent farmhouse and, audaciously enough, said that they were going there.
Leaving Jai Singh tied, they went to the Gauba Farmhouse where the caretaker was Jai Singh’s brother Raman Yadav, 30. The police suspect that they first called out the names of the inmates but when no one answered, they thrashed the dog tied outside. Hearing his wails, Raman came out to find that the light was off.
“As I adjusted my eyes to the darkness, I saw a man with a stick and immediately tried to rush inside. But he held me, and another one started beating me. Several more men emerged and ransacked our house. They collected around Rs 1,200, an ATM card along with a slip having its password, and some other items within minutes,” said Raman.
They also collected three mobile phones, removed the SIM cards and broke them. “Then they left behind the phones knowing they are easy to trace but took away the memory cards, probably to listen to the songs stored on them,” said Raman.
Meanwhile, back in the first farmhouse, Girija untied her husband who gathered a few persons in the neighbourhood and they went towards the Gauba Farmhouse, shouting at the top of their voice, which scared the dacoits who then fled in a hurry.
Minutes later, as the news reached Parch village, many more villagers arrived. Someone informed the Mullanpur SHO who arrived with a police team. A team from Chandigarh also came there after Rajpal, one of the farmhouse owners who lives in Sector 11, informed the Sector 11 police station.
While the police made inquiries, the gang crossed over to Chandigarh and struck at Bhullar’s farmhouse about two kilometres away. They beat up caretaker Gyan Singh, a retired assistant sub-inspector, tenant Babloo, and took away Rs 40,000 and some gold jewellry. Gyan Singh’s both arms were fractured.
As in the previous two raids, the assailants started beating Gyan Singh as soon as he opened the door. Parvati, one of the tenants, informed Bhullar’s wife who, in turn, informed the police.
Another tenant, Somvir, said that there were at least seven assailants. They locked the doors of each of the six rooms which are rented out to labourers. One of the rooms in which Parvati stayed with her children did not have a bolt on the outside.
“The accused asked me to open the door, but I did not and after a while they left,” said Parvati. Babloo said the intruders stole cash and jewellery from his house. “Afterwards, they locked me in,” said Babloo, who suffers from polio and was beaten up.
Gyan Singh’s son, Pratap Singh, a head constable in Punjab Police, said, “When the police came, they found my father lying in a pool of blood with both his hands and feet tied. The police rushed him to PGI.’’
The police of Chandigarh and Mohali are co-ordinating in the investigation. Chandigarh SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill said, “Gyan Singh resisted and the accused thrashed him. They took away a gold bangle from Gyan Singh and gold earrings from a woman.’’