Malda, April 3: A gang of more than 10 dacoits armed with knives and pipeguns waylaid the vehicle of a businessman on a desolate stretch of NH34 at Jalapur this morning and robbed him of Rs 70,000.
The incident comes less than 24 hours after a similar robbery on the Malda-Mahadipur road where a gang ambushed a van carrying salary of government employees and escaped with Rs 2.49 lakh.
Kalu Chowdhury, a poultry farmer from Ghorapir, was returning home on his three-wheeled van after selling some birds at Baburhat when the gang intercepted him on the highway.
“Each of them was armed with knives and pipeguns. I saved my life by handing over the bag containing the money. The whole operation was over in 10 minutes,” Chowdhury said.
The superintendent of police of Malda district, Satyajit Banerjee, said the modus operandi was the same as yesterday, but it could not be confirmed if the same gang was behind both the crimes.
Jalalpur is not very far from Maharajpur, where yesterday’s robbery was committed.
The district police chief said his men had seized a motorcycle in connection with the Maharajpur incident. Although he claimed yesterday that the gang had been “identified”, no one has been arrested yet.
The gang had beaten up the government employees and chopped off the fingers of a policeman who had been escorting the van carrying the salary.
“We are conducting raids at different places. We believe the dacoits will be arrested within a day or two,” Banerjee said.
However, businessmen in Malda appeared to draw little comfort from the police chief’s assurances. The spokesperson for Malda Chambers of Commerce, Ujjal Saha, said incidents of snatching and dacoity on the highways had become quite frequent. “The law enforcers rarely patrol the highways,” he alleged.
Saha also expressed concern over the deplorable condition of the roads in the district. “Cars are forced to move slowly, making them easy prey to highway robbers. Repeated appeals to the district authorities to repair the roads have gone unheeded,” he said.