SBI’s Alkusa branch in Dhanbad on Saturday. Picture by Gautam Dey
Dhanbad, Aug. 24: Six men on motorcycles today robbed three SBI officials of Rs 8.5 lakh at gunpoint while they were walking to a nearby ATM to load cash in blatant violation of security guidelines.
The guard accompanying the bank staff — SBI’s Alkusa branch manager Anil Kumar Kujur, clerk Ravi Rajak and peon Rajendra Singh — was injured when one of the robbers fired at him.
Yugal Singh has been admitted to PMCH in Dhanbad.
The gang had done their homework well. They seemed to know that the bank, which loads around Rs 3 lakh into its ATM on week days, fed more money on weekends.
According to police sources and local shopkeepers, the gang — six of them on three bikes — spent two hours hovering around the ATM, barely a kilometre from Kenduadih police station and about 5km from Dhanbad town.
“The branch manager and the others, along with guard Singh, stepped out around 2.30pm and headed for the ATM. The peon was carrying the money in a tin box as they usually did. They were about 10 feet from the ATM when two men, wearing helmets, flashed revolvers and asked them to hand over the cash. When the guard resisted, they fired on him,” said a bank employee, refusing to be named.
By that time, the other gang members joined in. They snatched the box and fled towards Jharia.
Nearby police stations have been alerted and all exit points of the district sealed.
Later, Dhanbad DSP Amit Kumar checked CCTV images of all customers who had visited the ATM prior to the incident. “Raids are on at several places to nab the criminals. We will leave no stone unturned to catch them,” he said.
According to operating protocol, the bank ought to have informed police before sending the employees to load the ATM with such a huge sum of money. Besides, cash is always meant to be delivered to ATMs in specially protected vehicles.