Gunpoint robbery near Calcutta's South City Mall

Woman robbed and friend pistol-whipped; gang with snake held

By Monalisa Chaudhuri in Calcutta
  • Published 24.11.18, 2:32 AM
  • Updated 24.11.18, 2:32 AM
  • 2 mins read
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The spot (circled) where the robbery and attack took place around 2.15am on Friday. The tall structure behind is part of the South City complex. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

A young woman and a friend walking along a lane adjoining the South City complex after watching a film at Basusree cinema were allegedly robbed at gunpoint and one of them was pistol-whipped around 2.15 am on Friday by three motorbike-borne men.

When the police tracked the bikers down using a vital piece of information — that the two-wheeler was a blue Pulsar — they found a bag with a snake. “There was a snake in that bag. They said they often used the snake to scare people and rob them,” a police officer said.

An officer at Lalbazar reconstructed the robbery: “The bike trailed the victims from Prince Anwar Shah Road and blocked their way when they were passing through the deserted lane leading to Katjunagar. One of them brandished a gun and demanded all valuables from the woman.”

When her friend protested, the man holding the gun hit him with the butt, the officer added. At this, the woman began screaming, prompting the attackers to flee on their bike.

Two of the suspects in a police jeep
Two of the suspects in a police jeep Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
The bike used by the suspects
The bike used by the suspects Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

The police said the woman and her friend went to Jadavpur police station to report the matter soon after. An alert was flashed to all night patrols to look for a blue Pulsar.

A person living near the attack spot said he saw a police jeep around 2.25am. “A man was pointing towards a lane adjoining my building and telling an officer that a bike had sped away in the direction of Poddarnagar,” he said on Friday afternoon.

A police patrol managed to intercept a two-wheeler matching the description near Golf Green.

Sources said there were two men on the bike with the bag. The riders were identified as Arijit Singh alias Gaurav, 26, from Bikramgarh nearby and Yusuf Ahmed, 28, from Zakaria Street in central Calcutta. “Pursuing their statement, two others were picked up later in the morning,” a police source said.

The police said they had seized a single-shot pistol and a live bullet and recovered the woman’s stolen purse, which had an ATM card and Rs 300 in cash.

The other suspects in custody are Ijaz Ahmed, 19, of Govinda Chandra Dhar Lane in central Calcutta and Robin Ahmed, 27, of PK Guha Road, Dum Dum.

“Four people have been arrested,” confirmed deputy commissioner (south suburban division) Santosh Nimbalkar.

The friends were returning after attending a programme at the Calcutta International LGBT Film Festival.

Dozens of Calcuttans — those who work late-night shifts or watch night shows at South City Mall — frequent the stretch in the late hours. The lane where the alleged robbery happened has several small shops that remain open late in the night.

Residents of the neighbourhood said people often hire cycle-rickshaws to take a shortcut from Prince Anwar Shah Road to Poddarnagar or Katjunagar through the lane. However, even very late at night, when rickshaws are not available, people have found the lane safe enough to walk without fear.

“So many times I have walked back home after watching a movie (at night). I have never felt unsafe. But this incident is unbelievable. Never thought this could happen here,” said Jaysree Chowdhury, who lives in the neighbourhood.