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Rs 14-lakh heist by trio

Midnapore, Jan. 25: A gang of three snatched Rs 14.26 lakh from an employee of the Life Insurance Corporation of India this afternoon in the heart of West Midnapore’s Jhargram.

According to police, one of the criminals fired two rounds, injuring an employee of a shop next to the LIC office in the Raghunathpur area of Jhargram, about 170 km from Calcutta.

West Midnapore superintendent of police R. Rajsekharan said preliminary investigation had not found any involvement of Maoists. “We are inquiring into the case and have got some clues.”

Inspector-general of police (western range) Arun Gupta said some local residents are suspected to be involved.

The officiating manager of the LIC office, B. Dehera, said the gang struck when two employees were going to deposit the money in a branch of the United Bank of India, a two-minute walk from the insurance company’s office.

As one of the employees, Bhajahari Kisku, emerged from the LIC office with the cash in a briefcase, a gang member pushed him from behind, a police officer investigating the case said.

“When he fell down, another youth snatched the briefcase and ran towards a waiting motorcycle. But Kisku and his colleague managed to get the briefcase back,” the police officer said.

At this point, one of the criminals whipped out a revolver and fired two rounds.

A bullet hit the right knee of Subrata Acharya, 30, who works in a shop beside the LIC office.

“In the melee, the three youths snatched the briefcase again and fled on the motorcycle. The operation lasted a few minutes,” the officer added. All the youths were wearing helmets.

Police officials said this was the biggest heist in Jhargram town in recent times.

In December 2005, armed dacoits had looted Rs 4 lakh from the United Bank Of India branch.

Senior police officials visited the LIC office and questioned the employees.

Rajsekharan said police guards would be provided to financial institutions during shifting of money if such help is sought.

“We are ready to render all co-operation to the financial institutions,” the SP said.

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