Monday, 30th October 2017

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Raid on Muthoot's Siliguri branch sixth on firm’s offices in Bengal

Rs 10 crore Muthoot robbery

By Our Correspondent in Siliguri
  • Published 25.08.19, 1:05 AM
  • Updated 25.08.19, 1:05 AM
  • 2 mins read
Police officers with Muthoot staff inside the branch after the incident on Saturday. Picture by Passang Yolmo

Armed robbers burst into an office of Muthoot Finance in the heart of Siliguri on Saturday and cleaned out cash and gold worth Rs 10 crore in the sixth such strike in Bengal in five years on the Kerala-based gold loan firm’s offices.

Some in the gang of “four to five” entered the Muthoot office on Siliguri’s Burdwan Road posing as customers around 4pm, police said, citing eyewitnesses’ accounts.

A guard and a peon were thrashed as they tried to resist the robbers, who the police suspect have walked some distance with the booty and then escaped in a vehicle.

Few outside the branch in the bustling area found anything amiss as the gang walked out without any commotion. No shots were fired during the robbery. The arms were used to threaten the staff. After the gang left, the employees, apparently too shocked to react, first rushed to help the peon and the guard.

In the past five years, the robbery is one of the “biggest” such raids in Bengal in terms of value, said a police source. The volume of gold taken away from the Siliguri office will in excess of 30kg, though the final assessment is yet to be made, according to the source who added that around Rs 1.5 lakh in cash was looted.

In December last year, a gang had decamped with cash and gold worth Rs 8.5 crore from Muthoot’s office in Asansol. There had been three other robberies at Muthoot offices in Calcutta and surrounding areas, including one on Park Street. Five years ago, over Rs 14 crore was looted from a Muthoot office in Durgapur, said an officer.

In Siliguri on Saturday, the robbers appeared to have come prepared. “They had drawn up the plan before as two of the men carried some gold and approached executives at the front counter. Three others waited outside,” said a police source.

As the duo started talking to the staff, they suddenly took out arms and asked them to hand over all cash and gold. “A peon tried to stop them but the duo beat him up. They then threatened to open fire if the cash and gold was not handed over,” said an employee.

At this point, the three men waiting outside tried to get in. The guard, manning the entrance, tried to stop them. “They beat him up and entered the branch. The gang then took all the gold and cash and fled,” the source added.

The staff, apparently shocked by the attack, rushed to help the wounded peon and the guard.

Some others called up Siliguri police. “We are checking CCTV footage of the area to find out whether the gang members fled in a car or other vehicles. This is because the employees took time to react and come out of the office. By that time, the miscreants had fled and the employees did not have a clear idea about the vehicle they used for the escape,” said a police officer.