The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Early-bird robbers clean out bank

Behrampore, Oct. 22: Robbers raided the Cossimbazar branch of Allahabad Bank this morning and fled with more than Rs 14 lakh in cash.

Five armed dacoits walked into the bank near Madhupur on National Highway 34 around 9.50 am, soon after the bank had opened, turned their guns on the employees and walked out with the loot after half an hour.

Additional superintendent of police Sankar Singha said all police stations in the district have been asked to intensify search for the miscreants, including intercepting vehicles on the highway. Employees of the bank, including the manager and cashier, have been interrogated.

“I had just unlocked the branch and a sweeper and the security guard were with me at that time. Suddenly two persons attacked us from behind. Before we realised anything, they took us to a room at gunpoint. They took the other employees who were walking in into the room in a similar way and forced them into a huddle under threat,” recounted manager Ardhendu De.

After confining the employees, the robbers asked for the manager and the cashier. “As we did not oblige them, the miscreants started beating us and even threatened to kill by putting a revolver on the head of one staffer. Realising the situation, I went forward with the cashier. The dacoits forced us to open the vault and took the entire amount of Rs 14,23,354. They put the cash in a bag and walked out. Before leaving, the miscreants locked all the 15 employees and two customers inside a room,” De said.

Debendranath Dutta, a bank employee, said the dacoits were speaking in both Hindi and Bengali.

Customer Janardan Sarkar, a resident of Madhupur, recalled that he was caught unawares by the dacoits as soon as he walked in. “The miscreants took me to a room at gunpoint where the employees of the bank were being held. As the alarm bell is in the chamber of the manager and cashier, it was not used,” he said.

Bank officials said the security system in nationalised banks would be strengthened. They believe the deployment of one armed guard is not enough. “We shall convene a meeting soon after Diwali to discuss the security system,” said a senior bank official.

Police teams are being despatched to the neighbouring districts as part of the combing operation to trace the criminals.

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