Highway robbers back, finger at ‘lax cops’
Armed and masked goons blocked the Chakdah-Kalyani state highway in Ishwaripur with felled branches and looted cash and valuables worth over Rs 20 lakh from businessmen and farmers en route to markets on vehicles in the small hours of Monday.
In the daring operation that lasted for over two hours starting 1am, dacoits looted at least 25 vehicles at gunpoint while brandishing sharp weapons too. Traders have alleged that police did not rescue them despite repeated calls. The Ranaghat SP has denied the charge.
At least five persons were injured. Among them, Sohrab Mandal, a professional photographer, was hospitalised as the dacoits beat him with an iron road that fractured an arm and leg. Mandal had refused to part with his digital movie camera worth Rs 2 lakh.
Angry businessmen and villagers blocked the busy Chakdah-Kalyani highway for over an hour on Monday morning demanding speedy arrest of criminals. The police promised it, but till Monday evening no arrest had been made. Ranaghat SP V.S.R. Ananthnag said they had some leads.
Residents alleged that lack of night patrolling nowadays by the police encouraged dacoits to come back on the highway that was once notorious for such robberies.
Sukur Ali Mondal, secretary of Ishwaripur Traders Association, said he had called the Chakdah OC at least six times during the crisis.
“But he disconnected my calls. He responded only after a member of Chakdah central traders’ organisation called him. The OC sent two constables and two civic volunteers who were mute spectators to the goons running away.”
SP Ananthnag, however, said the police acted in time and rushed to the spot.