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Six thefts at IIT after Puja

Kharagpur, Nov. 8: At least six houses on the IIT Kharagpur campus were burgled while their occupants were away during Puja vacation, with authorities blaming lack of security guards in the 2,200-acre area.

The latest theft happened last night in the house of a technician in the central research facilities department who has gone to Kashmir for a 15-day holiday.

Police said all the thefts were carried out in a similar manner. “The walls of the quarters are over 10ft high. The thieves scaled the wall and then broke the lock of the front door. The main gates of all the houses were untouched,” an officer said.

But the loss in the six thefts could not be estimated because some of the families were yet to return.

A professor’s wife said Rs 3 lakh in cash and jewellery were stolen from their house.

Dinesh Karmakar, a non-teaching staff with the IIT, suspected the involvement of “insiders”. His house was raided about 10 days ago and Rs 1.5 lakh were stolen.

“All gates except the main entry and exit ones are closed after 11pm. Guards are posted there. How can anybody from outside the campus know which houses would not have occupants during the Pujas?” he asked.

Officials responsible for security on the campus said the number of guards were not sufficient. IIT Kharagpur has 16 security personnel of its own. There are 250 private guards and an outpost with six policemen.

“The guards mostly keep watch on a dozen buildings which are under construction. Then there are storerooms, pump houses, students’ hostels to be guarded. Only four are engaged for over 1,000 staff quarters. At least 90 houses were vacant during the Pujas. A list of those houses was also submitted to the private security agency,” a police officer said.

Although the IIT was closed for nine days from October 20 for the Pujas, some employees had extended their leaves.

Asked about the thefts, IIT Kharagpur registrar Tapan Ghosh said: “It is a matter of serious concern. Thefts had taken place last year too during the Pujas. We have to do something about this.”

A constable from the police outpost on the campus said over 5,000 workers were engaged for the construction of some buildings. “Some of them could be involved. Though most of them leave the campus at night, some stay back. We will keep a watch on them now. We are only six here. How can we guard so many quarters?” he asked.

The inspector in charge of Kharagpur police station, Arunabha Das, said: “We are investigating. We hope to make a headway soon.”