|(Left) The robbed house at City Centre in Durgapur on Monday, one of the several almirahs rummaged in search of valuables.
Pictures by Arup Sarkar
Durgapur, Sept. 2: A gang of eight armed youths raided a businessman’s house barely 150 metres from a police outpost in Durgapur’s upscale City Centre and took away cash and valuables worth Rs 6 lakh after assaulting the family members early today.
The occupants of the two-storeyed house said the youths had fruits and soft drinks kept in the fridge before fleeing with the valuables in a 90-minute robbery.
According to police, preliminary investigation had revealed that the robbers were in their early twenties. The gang sneaked into the house after removing the iron grille of a window on the ground floor.
The robbery in a house so near to a police outpost raised questions on security in an upscale Durgapur area considered a business centre of the steel town. Residents in the area that houses shopping malls, highrises and hospitals, stressed the need to raise vigil at night, adding they had no idea that a robbery took place in the neighbourhood till later in the day.
Amit Sharma, the businessman whose house was robbed today, owns a petrol pump in nearby Asansol apart from running a travel agency, a canteen and supplying workforce to several firms in Durgapur. Amit was away on business to Calcutta.
After sneaking into the house, the gang first held a dagger to the throat of the domestic help and her son who were sleeping in a room on the ground floor and tied them up with a bedsheet. While one stood guard, the others went to an adjacent room where Amit’s elderly parents were asleep.
“I was jolted out of sleep and saw a masked man holding a dagger to my throat. He slapped me. There were at least six others behind him, all of whom were carrying some kind of sharp weapons such as knives and choppers. They told me and my wife to hand over whatever cash and ornaments we have at home,” said Bhagwati Prasad Sharma, Amit’s father.
The businessman’s mother, Meena, was punched in the face when she shouted for help. After taking away valuables from the almirah, the gang forced Meena to take them to the first-floor room where Amit’s wife Jyoti was sleeping.
“They told me to call Jyoti by her name so that she opens the door without any suspicion. They barged into the room and forced her to hand over whatever ornaments she was wearing. She also gave them the keys to her almirah. Then they gathered in the dining room and ate food kept in the fridge before fleeing,” Amit’s mother said.
According to the police, the cash, jewellery and electronic goods robbed were estimated at Rs 6 lakh.
Jyoti, who looks after the canteen her husband owns in an IT company in Durgapur, said she could not recall anybody having threatened Amit in an attempt to extort money.
Both the police and Amit ruled out business rivalry as reason for the robbery.
The police arrived around 6am. “We have started investigation but we are yet arrest any body. We will beef up security and patrolling in the area,” said S.S. Murugan, the assistant commissioner of police (east), when asked about the robbery in a house 150m from a police outpost.
The robbery prompted residents of nearby Bengal Ambuja housing colony to question police patrolling at night.
“It is surprising. We had no idea about the robbery. Hardly any police vehicle is seen in our locality at night. Moreover, it had been raining yesterday,” a retired deputy general manager of Durgapur Steel Plant said.