Malda, Jan. 9: A gang of over 30 armed robbers raided a postmaster’s house for almost an hour at Makdampur village near the border with Bihar last night and took away cash, gold ornaments and other valuables together worth Rs 10 lakh.
An alert neighbour, who suspected thieves were in the locality, fired from his gun in the air, after which the robbers fled. The cash that the gang took away included Rs 2.5 lakh which postmaster Badrinath Saha said was supposed to be distributed under the 100 days’ work scheme. No one has been arrested.
Saha, the postmaster of Jagannathpur village in Harishchandrapur, said the robbers looted his two-storied concrete house for almost an hour. Saha said the gang had broken the house open around midnight.
“Around 30-35 men were in the gang and they were carrying improvised revolvers, daggers and other sharp weapons. After entering my home, the robbers held me at gunpoint and asked me to hand over all cash and valuables to them. They also asked all women in the family to stand in a line and snatched the gold ornaments they were wearing,” Saha said today.
The postmaster and his two younger brothers live in the house with their families. Around 10-12 family members, including Saha’s two brothers, were at the house at the time of the heist.
The postmaster said the gang members were speaking in Bengali and Hindi. “I told them where the cash and gold ornaments were kept. The gang split into several groups and searched each room. They rifled through cupboards and took out cash and ornaments. The robbers also took away Rs 2.5 lakh I had brought home from office. The money was supposed to be given to the beneficiaries of the 100-days’ work scheme today,” said the postmaster.
Saha, 50, said there were arrangements at the post office to keep the cash for the job scheme, but he had brought the money home for more security. “I suspect the robbers attacked my home for this cash. They took away gold, cash, cellphones and other valuables worth around Rs 10 lakh,” said the postmaster, who filed a complaint with Harishchandrapur police.
The cops from Harishchandrapur police station, 24km away, reached the village after the robbery.
Investigators said while the robbers were raiding Saha’s house, his next-door neighbour Hiren Saha had a hunch that robbers were in the locality. “He took out his licensed gun and opened fire in air to scare away the robbers. Some other villagers also woke up and the robbers came out of the house. The gang fired a few rounds in the air, lobbed crude bombs and fled,” said a police officer.
Makdampur is 5km away from the Bengal-Bihar border and 100km from Malda town. Kalyan Mukherjee, the superintendent of police of Malda, said: “We are in touch with Bihar police and are trying to identify them.”
Jewellery shop owners in Raiganj shut their stores on Wednesday and Thursday to protest alleged police inaction after five shops were robbed in the town in December.
“Since December last year, there have been five thefts in different jewellery shops but police have failed to carry out any arrests or recover any of the stolen goods,” said Tarit Lahiri, the president of the Raiganj branch of Bangiya Swarnashilpi Samiti. The shop owners took out a march on Thursday. The shops will re-open on Friday.