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Rs 50-lakh loot in cash van strike

Patna, Feb. 3: Armed robbers attacked the cash van of a nationalised bank in Begusarai district on Monday and escaped with Rs 50 lakh after shooting at a private security guard.

This is the third major incident of heist in the past one year in which the criminals took away Rs 2 crore in total.

Police said six criminals riding three motorcycles opened fire at the security guard of Uco Bank when he was unloading the iron-made boxes containing the amount from the cash van at Chaurahi Bazaar under the same police station, around 50km north of Begusarai district headquarters, around noon.

The guard, Rajendra Mahto (50), fell on the ground after receiving bullet injuries. The indiscriminate firing created panic among the passers-by, who ran helter-skelter. The shopkeepers downed their shutters in a huff. In the meantime, the robbers took away the boxes containing the money and escaped on their motorbikes towards unknown destination.

The injured guard was rushed to the local primary health centre from where he was later shifted to Begusarai sadar hospital. His condition is stated to be stable.

Begusarai superintendent of police Harpreet Kaur told The Telegraph from the spot that the bank authorities had allowed a guard to take the money in a private vehicle defying instructions issued by her office to all such financial institutions in the district.

She said the district borders had been sealed and intensive raids had been launched to apprehend the criminals. “A special team headed by a deputy superintendent of police has been formed to crack the case at the earliest,” she said, adding that the negligence on the part of the bank authorities would also be probed.

The SP said all the bank officials had already been asked to carry adequate security either from the district police headquarters or the police stations concerned while carrying huge amount of cash from one branch to another. “Similar instructions have also been given to the big commercial establishments,” she added.

The headquarters has assigned the CID to assist the district police in the investigation.

Manoj Kumar, Uco Bank deputy manager, said the criminals had attacked the security guard as soon as he had come out with the boxes from the cash van. He, however, made an abortive attempt to prevent the robbers and sustained grievous injuries, he added.

Manoj added: “The vehicle has been hired for transporting the cash from the main branch to other branches for long. But such an incident has happened for the first time.” He, however, kept mum when asked about deputing the lone guard for transporting such a huge amount of cash.

This is not an isolated case. On July 2 last year, armed robbers attacked a cash van in Sitamarhi district and took away Rs 25 lakh after killing a bank manager and leaving two others injured. The money belonged to the Punjab National Bank.

In April last year, another incident of robbery from the cash van of a nationalised bank was reported from Saran district. The gang headed by a police constable Sanjiv alias Pappu Singh had looted Rs 1.25 crore from the cash van near Dharan Bazaar on the borders of Jalalpur and Baniapur police stations.