The Vadodara police Monday arrested two autorickshaw drivers for allegedly triggering panic at a mall in the city, after they tried to bribe two staff members to help pass a suspicious bag through the security check. However, after preliminary probe, the police said that they were trying to pull off a prank. The accused were identified as Sagar Thakkar (27) and Jignesh Baria (29).
As per the complaint, they had entered the Taksh Galaxy mall in Waghodia area of the city at 5 pm. They went to the men’s washroom and offered Rs 25,000 to one of the housekeeping staff members to help pass a bag through the security check. After he dodged them and went ahead with his work, the duo approached another female employee and offered her Rs 50,000. They suggested that since she had an ID card, it would be easier for her to bring in the bag without the due scanning process. The woman grew suspicious and probed them about the contents of the bag and why they couldn’t bring it in themselves. The duo fled the spot to evade questions, but the staffer alerted the higher authorities who in turn informed the police.
Three police teams, including the Vadodara Crime Branch, were dispatched to the mall. They collected the CCTV footage and tried to identify the accused with the help of the two staffers, in addition to activating their local informers’ network. Thakkar was identified first and nabbed from Harni area of the city and Baria was arrested from Waghodia from under a water tank. The police did not recover any bag or cash from their possession.
“The two have confessed that they had approached the staffers with such a demand, but maintained that they were just trying to pull off a prank. They said they did not have the money that they were offering,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Jaydeepsinh Jadeja. They were spotted on their white Activa outside the mall but did not have any bag with them, Jadeja added.
The two have been booked under IPC section 505 (1) (B) (With intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public) — a non bailable offence — at the Bapod police station. “Though preliminary probe suggests that they were trying to pull off a prank, we are investigating the case. The Modus Operandi used here cannot be ruled out. When the two had entered the mall, there was a partial blackout. They were insistent on bringing a bag inside and approached two people, instead of quitting after asking one. It might be a coincidence but we are looking into the possibility of it being a recce for a future plot,” Jadeja said.
The police also conducted background checks on the duo and found out that Thakkar has a case of rioting registered against him at the Bapod police station, while Baria was one once arrested under the Prohibition Act and later released.