The office of Muthoot Finance in Adityapur on Tuesday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
A security guard, wanted in nearly a dozen cases of dacoity in Bihar, had masterminded the gunpoint heist at Muthoot Finance in Adityapur, 5km from Jamshedpur, on Monday.
Police said Srinivas Sharma (38), a native of Aurangabad district in the neighbouring state, had joined a private security agency along with his nephew Ranjit a month ago. Target Security Services, in turn, deputed them at the finance company.
Around 6.30pm on Monday, four masked men — one of them armed — barged into the Muthoot office at Sharma Complex and were soon joined by gun-toting Srinivas and Ranjit. The gang swiftly snapped telephone lines, snatched away cellphones and disabled the two CCTV cameras.
Branch manager Harilal Dayal was assaulted and forced to part with the keys to the safe. Adityapur police said Srinivas and Co. cleaned out gold worth Rs 1.25 crores along with Rs 70,000 in cash in the 15-minute operation.
However, Muthoot’s Jugsalai branch manager Abhijit Sinha claimed the loss was more. “A team of auditors is, currently, assessing the damage. Gold worth Rs 2.5 crore was taken away,” he said.
Dayal, who was attacked with a hard and blunt object that left his right hand fractured, informed police around 7.30pm. By that time, the gang had vanished from the industrial town and no one had any clue in which direction and how they fled.
Adityapur OC K.N. Mishra said they had blocked all exit points and launched a manhunt, but in vain.
Seraikela-Kharsawan SP Indrajit Mahthe, who arrived on the spot around 10pm and investigated the case till midnight, said they had identified a third gang member as Ranjit’s friend Rahul.
“We believe the heist plan was hatched nearly a month ago soon after Srinivas and Ranjit joined Target Security,” Mahthe said, adding that apart from the keypin all the other members of the gang were in their mid-twenties.
“Srinivas hails from Aurangabad. He has been chargesheeted by Bihar police. He is wanted in 11 cases of dacoity and loot,” the SP said.
While one police team has been sent to Bihar to track down the gang, another is in Bengal where a similar incident took place earlier this year.
“In February, an armed gang of eight had pulled off a Rs 5-crore gold and cash heist at Muthoot’s Durgapur branch. The modus operandi is similar. So, we have sent a team to Bengal,” Mahthe said.
Police are also trying to find out whether the private security agency, which provides guards to Muthoot, was hand in glove with Srinivas.
“We have picked up five suspects for interrogation,” the SP said.