BHAGALPUR Armed criminals on Friday looted Rs 39 lakh from a branch of the State Bank of India (SBI) in Banka district, about 260 km south-east of Patna.
Banka superintendent of police (SP) Rajeev Ranjan said six criminals reached the Chaandan branch of the SBI, 40 km from the district headquarters Bhagalpur, and looted the cash kept in the currency chest after holding employees and customers hostage at gunpoint.
The criminals escaped on their motorcycle when people, who had assembled outside the branch, began raising alarm, Ranjan said.
The incident took place soon after the branch opened in the morning, he said.
Chandaan is close to Deoghar town of Jharkhand and the modus operandi of the criminals was similar to those who had robbed banks at Giridih and Hazaribag in the neighbouring state, he added.
He said the branch had received remittance of Rs 40 lakh on Thursday and the money was brought to Chaandan from Banka in a private vehicle. The role of armed guard deputed at the branch was also under scanner as he did not act against the bank robbers, he added.
The district is infested by Maoists. The SP, however, neither confirmed nor denied the role of Left wing extremists in the incident.
Confirming the loot of Rs 39 lakh from the branch, Bhagalpur zone inspector general of police Sushil M Khopde said a special investigating team had been constituted to nab the criminals involved in the incident.