Two guards armed with only lathis at the Punjab National Bank in Noida Sector 1 were beaten to death on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, in what was ultimately an unsuccessful robbery attempt.
According to police, the incident took place between 2:30 am and 4:15 am. The two guards were sitting in a guard room located at the gate of the bank. There were no CCTV cameras inside the guard room and no eyewitnesses to the incident, police said.
“The perpetrators stole the hard-disk containing footage from one of the CCTV cameras. We are working with the remaining footage from other cameras. Two people, probably aged between 18-20, seem to have entered the guard room. One of them was wielding what appears to be a lathi. The guards sustained head injuries, and the perpetrators stole the bank keys from the room. They went in and tried to look into various drawers and almirahs. But it seems that they did not find anything of interest, and left,” said SSP Ajay Pal Sharma.
According to CO City 1 Avneesh Kumar, the incident came to light when the morning shift guards and the gardener arrived and found the gate locked. “They called up the bank management and got the gate opened. Since the gate was locked in the morning, we are still investigating how they entered and exited the premises,” he said.
“The perpetrators seem to be from areas surrounding the bank. We have zeroed in on some suspects and will act on the matter soon,” Kumar added.
The dead, Mundrika Prasad (45) and Mukesh Kumar Yadav (25), were the only ones guarding the entire bank premises, which includes an ATM, police said.
Both of them had been hired through an agency, Kushal Security, police added.
The proprietor of the agency, Colonel (Retd) K P Singh, confirmed that the guards were armed with a lathi and a torch each. He claimed that the guards were fully trained to defend themselves.
“It is too common for banks to be so poorly secured. From what we can see, it would have been very easy to overpower the guards; there were just two of them and they had no weapons,” said SSP Sharma.
“We have issued multiple notices to banks to look into their security, this is something they need to act on,” SSP Sharma added.
For relatives of both men, confusion before despair
Mundrika Prasad (45) had left his phone behind at his Kalyanpuri home on Thursday night, with his 25-year-old son Lal Bahadur. “My father’s phone rang at around 8 am, and when I picked up, someone told me to rush to the bank. When I reached, there was a crowd and no one was telling me anything. Then someone from the crowd told me to go to the district hospital, and that I would find everything that I needed to know there,” he said. There, he discovered his father was dead.
According to Veer Bahadur (27), Prasad’s eldest son, his father had been working as a guard at the bank for over seven years. “Before this, he was part of the Delhi Home Guard for three years. We haven’t told our mother about his death yet, she is at home. We are three siblings, including a 22-year-old sister, but my father was the sole bread winner. The rest of us are unemployed,” he said.
The families of both deceased guards were distraught on Friday because of what they claimed was lack of communication. “Neither the bank nor the agency informed us about the deaths; we found out from other guards and people in the crowd…,” said Ranjeet Singh, Mukesh Yadav’s brother-in-law, who lived with him in Harola. Yadav had migrated to the city from Uttar Pradesh to earn a livelihood, while his wife and daughter stayed back. Both men earned around Rs 7,000-8,000, their relatives said.