Giridih, June 7: They walked in like other customers and trooped out 10 minutes later, with a cool Rs 29.19 lakh in their kitty.
In one of the most daring dacoities in Jharkhand, a gang of five robbed the Giridih branch of Central Bank of India, which is a stone’s throw away from the town’s police outpost, this morning.
Even more glaring, the bank has had no security guard for the past three years.
The bank on Shanti Bhawan Marg, in the heart of Giridih, had just opened its gates around 10.25 am when the criminals walked in and announced that they were robbers who were simply interested in the cash.
Santosh Kumar, a customer present when the criminals in their mid-thirties trooped in, said the men first assured everyone they won’t be harmed.
“We have nothing to do with anybody inside the bank, our only interest is the bank money,” he said. Santosh said he had to part with Rs 4,500 as well.
The dacoits, he said, smashed the bank’s alarm, then cut the phone lines and then slapped all present into submission with the warning not to budge even an inch. “The robbers, who were armed with revolvers, moved towards the strong-room that had just been opened by the bank officials. When the assistant manager went to say something, one of the robbers struck him with the butt of his revolver. In the meantime, another gangster went around confiscating the mobile phones of all bank employees and customers,” said bank clerk Mukesh Chaudhary.
“After stashing the money in their plastic bags, they were about to go away when I asked them to at least return our SIM cards. The robbers obliged,” Mukesh said. The criminals escaped on motorcycles parked outside the branch.
Branch manager Ganesh Singh said the robbers somehow spared Rs 10 lakh kept in a trunk inside the strong room.
Significantly, the bank’s cash reserve capacity is only Rs 11 lakh but Rs 40 lakh was there in the strong room as the bank had not sent the cash to State Bank of India.
District superintendent of police Bhageshwar Jha, who visited the bank soon after the robbery, said all police stations had been alerted and the borders sealed. “We hope they have not gone out of the district and are hiding somewhere inside. We are searching every possible hideout of the robbers and will nab them at the earliest,” Jha said.
The robbery has sent shockwaves through the town. “The robbers should have been nabbed as such incidents only increase the anxiety among the people,” said Koshlesh Yadav, a state government official.