They were out to rob passengers on an early morning bus. And would have got away scot-free, if a BSF officer did not stand up and be counted.
V.N. Venkataraghavan, the officer, chased five snatchers at Maniktala around 6.30 am on Sunday and caught hold of one of them, identified as Sheikh Kalu. He was handed over to police.
The gang had boarded the bus, on route L238, which the officer had taken on his way to the airport. “The five, in their late 20s, posed as passengers. They walked up to the seat Venkataraghavan was occupying and pretended to spot a bomb below it,” said deputy commissioner of police (headquarters) Pradip Chatterjee.
When Venkataraghavan bent down to check under his seat, “the men held his hands and took out Rs 2,500 from his shirt pocket. Within seconds, the five had jumped off the bus and started running”, added Chatterjee.
The officer, too, got off the bus and ran down the road after the snatchers.
“He screamed out to passersby to stop the fleeing gang,” said an officer of Amherst Street police station. “Four of the men boarded a taxi that was following the bus and escaped. Kalu, however, was caught by the officer.”
Inspector-general of BSF Somesh Goyel said: “I have sought a report from Calcutta Police about the incident. Venkataraghavan will be rewarded for his act.”
Police have found out that the gang often targeted passengers on early morning buses on holidays. “The gang had been lying low for a few months because of intensified vigil. But it seems the members have again taken to crime. We have come to know the whereabouts of Kalu’s accomplices,” stated another officer of the police station.