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Bank robbed of Rs 13 lakh
- Tin box removed from cabin while cashier chats with colleagues

A tin box containing more than Rs 13 lakh disappeared mysteriously on Friday morning from the head cashier’s cabin in the Bhowanipore branch of the nationalised Punjab and Sind Bank, on Ashutosh Mukherjee Road, in south Calcutta. The head cashier was the first to notice the theft and alert Bhowanipore police station.

Preliminary investigations threw up a host of unanswered questions. Officers from Bhowanipore thana and the detective department did not rule out the possibility of some bank employees being hand-in-glove with the miscreants. The bank management, too, has ordered a departmental probe into the incident.

“The floor plan of the bank is such that it is next to impossible for any outsider to enter the cashier’s cabin, pick up the 2-ft-by-1-ft box and walk out through the main gate, after passing a full row of employees,” said Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner, detective department.

Police were “not satisfied” with the statements of the head cashier. “We are keeping a close eye on him and scanning his antecedents,” Mitra added.

According to the head cashier, the theft took place around 10.15 am, when there were seven employees, including branch manager Ajit Singh Sachdeva. There are three cash-counters — one for receiving and two for disbursement.

“The head cashier opened his cabin and kept the tin box, containing Rs 15 lakh. He took out Rs 2 lakh and went to the other payment counter, leaving his own cabin unlocked. After handing out some money, he went over to chat with colleagues,” said S. R. Roy, officer-in-charge (OC) of Bhowanipore police station.

Ten minutes later, the cashier returned to find the box and the money missing. “I immediately alerted the branch manager, who called the police,” the cashier said. Harchand Singh Lamba, regional manager of Punjab and Sind Bank, later said: “We will conduct a departmental inquiry and punish anyone found to be negligent.”

Police were helped in their probe by a woman who had seen three youths emerging from the bank, one of them carrying a tin box. “She is an account-holder with the bank and had come to deposit money. When the employees raised a hue and cry, she realised she was a witness to the theft,” said Soumen Mitra.

Bhowanipore police had met the branch heads of 48 banks immediately after a robbery at Punjab National Bank’s Gariahat branch a few months ago. “We had urged them to follow some basic security norms. But the Punjab and Sind Bank branch had not followed a single suggestion,” alleged OC Roy.

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