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Upset traders want cop eye on staff

Concerned over frequent incidents of businessmen robbed with the connivance of their employees, Jharkhand’s largest trade outfit Singhbhum Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on Tuesday asked all entrepreneurs to submit staffer lists to respective thanas for police verification.

While the move may well cause heartburn or outrage among many employees, SCCI president Suresh Sonthalia defended it.

“The trading community is getting increasingly restive. The number of crimes where employees are involved is going up. It is a breach of trust and we are compelled to think of precautionary steps for safety of traders and their cash,” he said.

Sonthalia told The Telegraph the SCCI convened a meeting on Tuesday wherein members and non-members alike were urged to submit a list of their employees — especially drivers and supervisors who handle cash — for police verification.

“A trader not attached with the SCCI may also approach us for help in getting police verification so that staff, especially drivers and supervisors who deal with cash directly or indirectly, may come under police scanner,” Sonthalia said.

The SCCI took notice of the crime trend when a Ghatshila-based rice wholesale dealer Vishwanath Mandal was relieved of Rs 3.83 lakh by a gang with the help of his driver on January 25.

Mandal’s driver Kinkar Patro pretended strangers trussed him up and then proceeded to seize the trader’s cash kept in the SUV. But in fact, Patro had informed the youths that his boss would be collecting cash for retailers on that day.

Police succeeded in cracking the case on January 31 by arresting Patro and two others and recovered Rs 3.40 lakh of their booty.

Earlier, on January 9, a gang opened fire at Bhuiyandih-based trader Mukesh Prasad, injuring him and robbing him of Rs 10 lakh near Hotel Wave International on NH-33 in Chandil police station area.

Prasad’s accompanying employee Shibendu Mukherjee was also injured. Police probe revealed Prasad’s driver Mohammed Azharuddin had been the gang’s informer. Though Azharuddin and his accomplices were arrested, the cash was not recovered.

In September 2013, a supervisor of Sundernagar-based trading firm Kishan Maheswari, sent by his boss Bhimsen Sharma to deposit Rs 1.67 lakh in the bank, made up a story of how two bike-borne armed men had seized the cash and his cellphone. Police arrested Maheswari by tracking the cellphone, which he had claimed was robbed. Maheshwari, who had been Sharma’s employee for 12 years, confessed he had taken the money and concocted the robbery story to divert suspicion. Police recovered Rs 1.2 lakh from him.

“It is shocking that in some incidents, drivers and supervisors working with firms for years were found guilty of being hand-in-glove with criminals or had stolen money on their own,” Sonthalia said.

East Singhbhum senior superintendent of police Amol V. Homkar welcomed the SCCI move. “If staffers of trading companies are put under police scanner, they would think twice about ganging up with others to rob their bosses. And if they do, our detection becomes easier,” he said.