Injured Mukesh Prasad at Tata Main Hospital in Jamshedpur on Thursday night. (Animesh Sengupta)
An armed bike gang robbed Rs 10 lakh from the owners of a Jamshedpur-based company dealing in iron slag after firing at their SUV on NH-33 in Seraikela-Kharsawan district late on Thursday.
Two persons — Mukesh Prasad, the elder of the two brothers owning Maa Thave Traders, and cashier Shibhendu Mukherjee — were injured in the attack that took place near Hotel Wave International, about 12km from Jamshedpur and 20km from Chandil.
Mukesh, a resident of Bhuiyandih in Sitaramdera, was rushed to Tata Main Hospital with bullet injuries on his waist. Mukherjee, who received glass splinter injuries on his temple, was released after first aid.
Police suspect that the vehicle’s driver, Mohammed Azruddin, may have had a role in the road robbery and have detained him for interrogations.
Narrating the sequence of events, Pintu Prasad, the other brother who was also present in the car but remained unhurt, said they had gone to Ranchi for collecting the payment of Rs 10 lakh from an industrialist against iron slag supplied to him.
“It was around 10.30pm and we were driving down NH-33 when an SUV came in front of our vehicle and screeched to a halt. Apprehending trouble, our driver stopped the car. Suddenly, four men on two bikers whizzed in and stood by our vehicles,” Pintu said.
“Before we knew what was happening, they approached us and one of them asked me to hand over the bag that contained Rs 10 lakh. I tried to speak to him, but he pointed a pistol at my head. Still, I didn’t part with the bag and another criminal, who was also close to our SUV’s door, fired a shot, injuring my brother,” he added.
Mukherjee, who was sitting in the front, got hurt when a windowpane shattered under the impact of the bullet and the splinters hit him.
The robbers then forcibly opened a door of the vehicle and snatched away the bag before speeding away towards Jamshedpur.
“We rang up Chandil police station and a team rushed to the spot within 20 minutes. My brother and Mukherjee were taken to Tata Main Hospital,” Pintu added.
Both East Singhbhum and Seraikala-Kharsawan police swung into action for tracking down the culprits.
Speaking to The Telegraph, superintendent of police of Seraikela-Kharsawan Indrajit Mahthe said they had already recovered the two bikes and as many helmets suspected to have been used by the robbers.
“The helmets were found floating in a pond at Tamulia, while the bikes were abandoned near the water body behind Brahmananda Narayana Multispeciality Hospital this morning (Friday). As the criminals fled towards Tamulia, we suspect that the bikes belong to them. Later after verifications, we found out that one of the bikes was stolen from Bistupur last August,” said Mahthe.
The SP further said that they suspected the driver of the SUV in which the victims were travelling was involved in the crime.
“We have picked up the driver and are trying to find out why did he stop the vehicle in the middle of the highway at such a late hour after seeing an SUV ahead? What was the need to remove the ignition key?” Mahthe asked.
Asked about the SUV that had suddenly stopped in front of the victims’ car, he said they were not so sure about its involvement and were trying to do verifications.
The attack prompted the members of Sarbajanik Seva Samiti, a social outfit with which the Prasad brothers were associated, to demonstrate in front of the office of East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal against the deteriorating law and order situation in Jamshedpur.
Samiti president Shyam Sundar Mishra later led a delegation and handed a memorandum to the deputy commissioner. They demanded immediate arrest of the assailants.
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