The Punjab Police on Friday busted a gang of robbers, two of them policemen, who carried out a sensational Rs 1.68 crore heist on the Siswan-Baddi road in Panchkula district last December and also robbed Rs 11.4 lakh from a man near Kurali earlier this month. In both incidents, the robbers donned the police uniform.
Five of the six gang members were caught. Among the articles seized were two rifles the gang had robbed from the security guards of the cash van in Panchkula.
IG Paramjit Gill (Patiala Zone) said that one of the policemen worked at the police station under whose jurisdiction the recent robbery took place while another was posted in Jalandhar. A third accused was a former security guard of the company whose cash van they had looted in Panchkula.
Those arrested were Head Constable Sukhwinder Singh ‘Kala’, posted as a driver at the Singh Bhagwantpura police station and a resident of Kotla Nihang village in Rupnagar; constable Harinder Singh, posted in the Punjab Armed Police in Jalandhar and a resident of Bara village in Rupnagar; Harjit Singh, a former security guard of CMS company and a resident of Thona village, Rupnagar; Barinder Singh ‘Bala’, a businessman who owns petrol pumps and is a resident of Thona village; and Harinder Singh Gora, an ex-Sarpanch from Madpur village in Rupnagar.
A sixth accused, Gurjit Singh of Mullanpur, is absconding.
Bala, the businessman, was the mastermind behind the robberies, the IG said, adding that they were arrested while planning another dacoity during the intervening night of Thursday and Friday near Rangeelpur stream in Rupnagar.
On December 12, two of the accused, wearing the police uniform, stopped Ravinder Pal Singh, a Sector 42 resident, at Ban Majra village while he was on his way to Chandigarh and robbed him of Rs 11.4 lakh, before stabbing him.
Interrogation of the robbers revealed that Bala was at loggerheads with Ravinder Pal as the latter, also a petrol pump owner, had got one of Bala’s petrol pump sealed after complaining against it, and Bala had to pay a penalty of Rs 12,000.
“From this robbery, the police recovered Rs 4.65 lakh in cash and Rs 3 lakh from their bank accounts. During investigation, it was learnt that they also committed the heist in Panchkula using the similar modus operandi of wearing the police uniform,” said Gill.
On December 9, 2013, a CMS security van loaded cash from an Axis Bank branch in Sector 34 and was on its way to Baddi when it was intercepted by a Hyundai Verna car on the Siswan-Baddi road near Tapriyan village on the Mohali-Panchkula border.
Men in the car, who posed as policemen, asked the van occupants to produce documents and then threw chilly powder in their eyes, before snatching the rifles of the two security guards and fleeing with the cash chest.
Gill said that Harjit had worked as a security guard on the same van and, therefore, knew its route. The police said they had sealed the bank accounts of the accused which had Rs 28.75 lakh of the loot, including an FD of Rs 6 lakh.
“We’re interrogating them to know where they spent the rest of the money. They mostly spent it on buying properties and Bala invested his share in the petrol pump business,” said the police.
The police recovered the two double-barrelled rifles snatched from the van guards, two .32 bore revolvers, 14 live cartridges, three daggers, the Hyundai Verna car used in the last year’s heist and a Swift Dzire car.
Gill said that further interrogation of the accused was required to find out whether they committed any other crimes, and for further recovery.
Switched off mobiles on both occasions
Police sources said that the accused carefully planned both robberies. On both occasions, they switched off their mobile phones. During investigation of the recent robbery, the police first zeroed in on Head Constable Sukhwinder Singh.
A search of his house yielded a blood-stained dagger which had been used for stabbing Ravinder Pal. The police questioned Sukhwinder and the case was cracked. Ravinder Pal recognised the accused.
Once the police recovered the two rifles, and learnt that one of the accused had worked in CMS, the Panchkula heist was also solved. On Friday, a local court sent the accused to police remand for five days.