The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Pillow trick in Jhawar heist
- Domestic help confesses to Rs 50-lakh robbery

Calcutta, Oct. 27: After a fortnight-long interrogation, the domestic help from a remote village in West Midnapore broke down and confessed how he had single-handedly pulled off one of the most audacious burglaries early this month in the Alipore home of a well-known business family.

On October 10, Manoj Mondal cleaned out the swank Judges Court Road residence of Rajiv Jhawar of the Usha group.

He stuffed gold jewellery studded with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, watches, including one made of gold, and gold coins — estimated at Rs 50 lakh — into a pillow and had it smuggled out through a woman.

Bringing to an end the investigation into the crime, police said Mondal had presented the woman as his mother and helped her gain admission into the otherwise heavily-guarded house.

“Soon after he broke down and confessed to the crime, we took him to his village in Egra on Saturday night and recovered the extraordinary pillow stuffed with the booty,” said the officer-in-charge of Alipore police station, Pinaki Ranjan Mondal. “However, the woman who posed as his mother gave us the slip.”

Apparently, the theft was discovered on October 11, following which a senior official of the Usha group lodged a complaint with the police who began to interrogate the household staff, including a dozen domestic hands.

Brij K. Jhawar, Rajiv’s father, said Manoj had been working with the family for the past one year.

“We had given puja gifts to all our domestic helps before leaving for Ranchi,’’ he added.

Police said between October 7 and 10, the Jhawar family departed for Jamshedpur and Ranchi, where they have business interests, to celebrate the pujas. Manoj was in the residence with half-a-dozen other domestic helps.

The police said a woman had come to look for Mondal on October 2, about a week before the incident.

“She gave a new pillow to him (Manoj) and we thought he had it made for the pujas,’’ a domestic help at the Jhawars’ residence said.

On October 10, the woman once again arrived at the Jhawars’ house. Eyewitnesses said Manoj handed her a bag with the pillow.

The police said the pillow had pockets where the jewellery and other valuables were stored. It was then kept at Manoj’s room inside a bag with the new clothes he had bought for the pujas.

The Jhawars had given a week’s holiday to the domestics for the pujas. But Manoj, along with a few others, stayed back on the plea that there would be too few people to look after the house, endearing himself with the family.

“Manoj planned the heist very carefully. He knew that the Jhawar house had fortress-like security. He presented a mother whose bag, overflowing with puja gifts from maliks would hardly attract suspicion,” Pinaki Mondol said.

When the Jhawars returned home, they saw their gold ornaments and valuables were missing from the lockers and lodged a diary at the Alipore police station.

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