Two major cases of armed robbery were reported from the heart of the town late on Friday night, exposing the growing lawlessness and increasing number of such cases in the tri-city. The incidents come less than a week after a jewellery shop was robbed in Panchkula.
At least three unidentified assailants, one of them allegedly armed with a revolver, decamped with a cash collection van containing over Rs 10 lakh from outside a liqour shop in Sector 70 on Friday night, after injuring a salesman working in the shop — all within minutes. The car sans the cash was recovered near the spot on Saturday.
According to victims and eye-witnesses, the incident took place around 10.30 pm outside a shop-cum-tavern owned by a syndicate of three liquor contractors and located on the road dividing Sector 70 and 69. A Bolero camper (PB 11 BK 8588) which collects cash from around 50 liquor shops owned by the syndicate stopped to collect cash from outside the shop.
Ravi, the lone attendant at the shop, headed towards the vehicle to deliver a packet containing cash but was attacked by a youth who tried to snatch the packet. Ravi resisted the attempt and dropped down with the packet, but another youth came and smashed an empty liquor bottle on Ravi’s arm.
The occupants of the Bolero — driver Bhola and Japinder — came out to help Ravi but were held at gunpoint, while the assailants fled.
Interestingly, all this happened within minutes and people present near the spot could hardly react before the robbers fled.
“On the face of it, the robbery seems well-planned. The attackers were not after the packet of cash held by the salesman, which they could have got from any other shop in the city’s periphery. They attacked the salesman to draw the vehicle’s occupants out. Otherwise, the vehicle occupants never come out of the car, they collect cash packets through the window,” police said.
Lovely Sandhu, one of the partners of the syndicate, said, “The vehicle contained at least Rs 10 lakh in cash. But we’re preparing an exact estimate of the loot.” On Saturday morning, the Bolero was spotted parked behind a mini-bus beside a Gurudwara near the shop by a passer-by, and recovered. SSP Inder Mohan Singh arrived at the scene and a forensics team collected fingerprints from the car.
The police have registered a case under sections 382 and 34 of the IPC and 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act at the Mataur police station. No CCTV camera was installed near the spot and scrutiny of a camera located further in the marketplace yielded no results. The victims said that the assailants were tall, spoke and abused in Punjabi, and one of them was clean-shaven while another had long hair.
A Chandigarh police team continued…