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Dramatic bank heist brings PMO to Sonipat

Robbers dig 125-ft long, 7-ft high tunnel to empty 89 lockers at PNB branch

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigrah |
October 29, 2014 4:59:55 am
The broken bank lockers. (Express) The broken bank lockers. (Express)

A day after robbers cleaned out 89 lockers in a Haryana bank by walking in and out of a tunnel 125-ft long, 7-ft high and 2.5 ft wide, the Prime Minister’s Office dispatched one of its top officers to the break-in site in Sonipat district.

R N Ravi, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee and the Centre’s interlocutor with Naga rebels, reached Gohana on Tuesday and inspected the site where robbers tunnelled their way to the locker room of a Punjab National Bank branch. Ravi was accompanied by Haryana Director General of Police S N Vashisht, Inspector General of Police (Rohtak range) Anil Rao and other senior officers.

“R N Ravi from the PMO came here today along with the DGP and inspected the spot. Since a unique modus operandi was adopted by the accused, he (Ravi) came here from the intelligence point of view. There is a possibility that some gang from another state might have adopted a similar modus operandi. It could help us solve the case quickly,” Anil Rao told The Indian Express.

The tunnel had been dug from an abandoned building next to the bank branch. The robbers broke open 89 lockers, possibly with gas-cutters, and decamped with the valuables inside.

“It was a job executed with precision. It appears that the accused were trained hands and had complete knowledge of the locker room,” an officer said.

Two criminal cases have been registered by police. While a burglary case was registered on a complaint from bank officials, another case was registered against the bank officials on complaints from owners of the lockers.

“The extent of the loss has not yet been ascertained because nobody knows what was kept in the lockers. People are yet to give us details. Once the information is compiled, at least an approximate figure can be quoted for the total loss,” Rao said.

The police have constituted a Special Investigation Team to be headed by a DIG, Vivek Sharma. DGP Vashisht said: “Vivek Sharma shall camp in Gohana till this case is solved. We have also announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh for information that will help us crack the case.”
Punjab National Bank branch manager S L Khurana said: “The police are doing the investigation. We cannot divulge details about the lockers or how did it happen. We hope the accused will be nabbed soon.”

Police have detained some people for questioning. The owner of the building, from whose premises the tunnel was dug, is also being questioned. The bank’s security guard and a few officials too have been spoken to.

Meanwhile, people whose lockers were broken into have decided to move court against the bank and its officials. “All my life’s savings are gone. It is the fault of the bank officials who did not secure our lockers. We shall move court against the bank to seek compensation for our belongings,” said a woman who identified herself as Seema.

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