The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bank lapse, say cops

Twenty-four hours later, the police have blamed the Rs 6-lakh heist at Punjab National Bank’s Gariahat branch on the “callousness” of the bank authorities.

“There was a 161-page security manual published by the bank authorities, in which it is mentioned what sort of basic security arrangements each branch should have in place. But the Gariahat branch did not take even the basic precautions,” alleged an official of Gariahat police station. “Had the authorities followed their safety manual, the robbery could have been averted.”

The police, however, failed to track down the gang of seven that had held up the bank soon after it opened its doors on Tuesday. Officials from both the local police station and the detective department visited the branch, questioned the employees and snooped around all of Wednesday. But to little avail.

“The operation was so well-planned that we did not find a single fingerprint on the spot of the crime. They forced the cashier to unlock the vault and take out the currency bundles,” explained an officer on the case.

“The detective department’s dacoity wing has activated its network to trace the goons. But as such an incident has happened after a long time, we may need some time to make a breakthrough,” admitted Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner of police, detective department.

Elaborating on the security slip-up at the branch, Mitra added: “At a state-level security meeting at the Reserve Bank of India last December, we had urged the bank authorities to take basic security measures, like installation of close-circuit TVs and deployment of armed guards. But it is up to them to follow our suggestions.”

Tapas Kumar Bose, officer-in-charge of Gariahat police station, said it was “not possible” for the 71 constables in the thana to keep an eye on all 79 banks under its jurisdiction. “Besides, there are 91 jewellery shops in this thana area. Police will try their best to intensify a vigil,” added Roy.

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