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Gang on wheels arrested

Siliguri, Aug.16: A seven-member gang that robbed people posing as auto-rickshaw drivers and passengers was arrested from Siliguri in the past 24 hours.

Bhaktinagar police have recovered several stolen cellphone handsets, cash, cameras, wrist watches and ladies handbags from the gang that mostly targeted women.

“We could arrest three gang members yesterday from the dumping ground area of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation at Ektiasal. They were trying to dump some ladies’ purses there. The arrested persons told us about the remaining four members who were picked up later. We could recover different articles stolen from people, mostly ladies,” Anand Kumar, the superintendent of police of Jalpaiguri, said.

The police said Arup Ghosh, his wife Tumpa, Abdul Najrul, Md Firoz, Titon Biswas, Pinky Mondal — all residents of New Jalpaiguri—are among the arrested. Another woman, Pinky Mondal, has been also arrested.

The police have recovered Rs 3.25 lakh, 224 grams of gold, diamond ornaments, two digital cameras, six wrist watches and 15 mobile handsets from the gang. Some property deeds, 16,700 coins of different denominations, a couple of ATM cards and 54 ladies handbags have also been recovered.

The auto-rickshaw that the gang used for their operation has been seized.

The police said items worth around Rs 10 lakh have been recovered.

“Arup, Titon and Abdul used to pose as drivers of the auto-rickshaw while the other four would pretend to be passengers. They used to target mostly women and asked them if they wanted the vehicle to take them somewhere. As the target boarded the auto the gang members seated as passengers would take out valuables by either cutting the victim’s bag without his/her knowledge. We have recovered several ladies’ handbags and purses from them,” Kumar said.

He added that the gang used to operate in Siliguri, Bhaktinagar, Matigara and Pradhannagar, where residents use auto-rickshaws as a common mode of transport.

“On the basis of preliminary investigation we came to know that they were operating in these areas for the past one year. We have contacted the respective police stations for further investigation. We came to know that the gang members have a bank balance of Rs 2 lakh. We are trying to find out whether they have any other accomplices and would ask for police remand,” Kumar said.

The gang members have been booked under sections 379 (punishment for theft), 413 (habitually dealing in stolen property), 411 (dishonestly receiving stolen property) and 414 (assisting in concealment of stolen property).

All the four sections are non-bailable.

Apart from section 413 of the IPC, punishment for the other three sections might extend to three years of imprisonment or fine or both. For crimes under Section 413 one can be imprisoned for life or for 10 years, along with a fine.

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