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An innocuous ventilator used for better air flow during the scorching summer turned out to be a safe passage for dacoits who swooped in on an under-construction house in the chilly early hours of Monday to decamp with cash and jewellery.

The singleF-storeyed house being built in New Jaganpura Road area was occupied by 24-year-old Neeraj, his sister Priyanka and her two children — Arushi (6) and Yuvraj (2). Rajesh Kumar (26), who works in a network marketing company in the city and is constructing the house, had gone to his parental house in Nalanda on Sunday.

The dacoity follows a spree of crime incidents in the city that have remained unsolved.

According to police and other sources, four unidentified and armed men barged into the three-room house and woke them up from their slumber around 2am on Monday. “I was away in Nalanda. My house is still under construction but we moved in. The ventilator in one of the rooms has no lock or grill and the men had spotted it and entered through it. Altogether, there were four men, one armed with a country-made pistol and another with a shovel,” Rajesh, who rushed back to the city on Monday morning, told The Telegraph.

Neeraj, who was sleeping in one of the rooms, said the men terrorised the family for almost an hour before looting cash and jewellery worth at least Rs 1 lakh. “I have no clue how they entered. First, it was two men and then they opened the main door and let two more in. I tried to plead with them but one of them hit me hard with the pistol butt. My sister raised an alarm but they immediately pointed a gun at one of her children and we had to keep quiet. They then pushed us all into one of the rooms and locked the door. The initial shouting must have alerted the neighbours but none of them reacted,” Neeraj said.

A police officer at Ramakrishna Nagar police station said: “It seems that the lights in the house were on, making it an easy target for the dacoits. An FIR has been lodged but there is no breakthrough.” The officer, however, said the men had used a ladder to enter through the ventilator.

Neeraj’s sister Priyanka said: “Around 1am, I heard a noise but chose to neglect it. After almost an hour, I heard more sounds and woke up. I went to the room from where the noise was coming, saw the men and screamed.”

“They immediately caught me and threatened me with dire consequences if I screamed. By then, Neeraj had got up too and they assaulted them and pointed the gun at my children. Once they locked us up, they began to break the iron almirah, hitting it with the shovel. It took them almost 30 minutes to break it. They then collected jewellery, cash and some utensils and ransacked the house. By 2.45am, the commotion was over. We waited for 15 more minutes and then opened a window of the room, which does not have any iron rod. We got out through the window and then went up to the roof and raised an alarm. Some neighbours got out of their homes around 3.30am and the police were informed at daybreak,” she said.

The city police have been struggling to crack several criminal incidents with minimal success. With murder cases haunting the men in uniform, the cops even had to deal with mob fury late on Sunday evening after a speeding truck ran over a youth at the Rajabazaar-Samanpura area on Bailey Road. With the driver and his assistant escaping soon after the accident, angry residents burnt the truck and pelted stones at the police, who had no option but to resort to lathicharge.

The sources said action would be initiated against those who were involved in the violence.


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