In a daring incident, around eight persons robbed Rs 5 lakh from a cash van of the State Bank of Patiala (SBoP) around 11.15am on Friday, just 100 metres away from a police beat box in Khuda Ali Sher.
The incident has left the people living in the surrounding area in a shock, reflecting on the poor policing on the outskirts of the city.
When the cash van reached outside the SBoP branch in Khuda Ali Sher, security guards Jagtar Singh and Sohan Lal alighted from the vehicle and opened its rear door to take out cash. Suddenly, around five persons got down from a sport utility vehicle (SUV), Fortuner, which was following the van, and attacked the guards with sharp-edged weapons.
Sohan Lal said the robbers, who were also carrying a pistol threatened them, but Jagtar refused to hand over the cash to the assailants as a result they pelted them with stones.
Bank security guard Mohan Singh Mann noticed the scuffle and rushed to the spot. He gave a tough fight to the robbers, but they hit him with a brick and butt of his own rifle. Then, Jagtar fired a gunshot in the air following which the robbers fled in the white-coloured Fortuner car. Before escaping, two of the robbers picked up a box and transported it to their car, leaving behind their sharpedged weapons.
The van carried various boxes amounting to total Rs 65 lakh in cash. As robbers did not enter the bank, they were not caught on the security cameras installed on the bank premises.
However, the empty box was recovered from the Kaimbwala road around 2.15pm.
The police said it appeared that the robbers did recce of the area earlier.
The police were also investigating whether the robbers were following the cash van from Sector 17 where it had loaded the cash to be distributed to different branches or from Sarangpur where the van had last halted before leaving for Khuda Ali Sher.
UT senior superintendent of police Sukhchain Singh Gill also rushed to the spot. He said deputy superintendent of police (operations) Satbir Singh was carrying out investigation in the case. The accused were yet to be identified. A case under section 395 (dacoity) of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act was registered at the Sector 11 police station.
‘ROBBERS POUNCED ON SECURITY GUARDS’
Bank employee Pawan Sharma, who was present at the time of the incident, said, “In routine, when the cash comes it is accompanied by a gunman. As security guard Jagtar Singh got down and opened the vehicle’s rear door, robbers pounced on them. We heard some noise and rushed outside. There were around five persons trying to snatch a cash box and only one person had covered his face with a red handkerchief.”
Gurvinder Kaur, a woman who stays in the house next to the bank, said, “I heard some screams and noise thinking that someone had entered into a scuffle. My son told me that there was a robbery outside the bank and the guard was being thrashed. I asked my husband to go upstairs and fire in the air which would scare the robbers."