Four months of capital terror | india | Hindustan Times
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Four months of capital terror

For four months from mid-June to mid-October this year, a gang of armed dacoits struck terror in all corners of Bhopal. The law-and-order situation hit a nadir; residents in colonies on the outskirts lost faith in police and remained awake at night to keep vigil. This terror run ended in late October when a gang of 14 Bangladeshi robbers ? including its chief Fatima ? was arrested.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2006 16:44 IST

For four months from mid-June to mid-October this year, a gang of armed dacoits struck terror in all corners of Bhopal. The law-and-order situation hit a nadir; residents in colonies on the outskirts lost faith in police and remained awake at night to keep vigil. This terror run ended in late October when a gang of 14 Bangladeshi robbers — including its chief Fatima — was arrested.

The dacoits first targeted on June 20 mining officer R.K. Khare’s house at Ayodhya Nagar. A fortnight later, they struck at retired IAS officer O.P.

Dubey’s house in Shahpura. When the gang robbed jewellery and goods worth Rs 15 lakh from the house of a builder Gopichand Moolchandani at Idgah Hills on July 19, the people had begun to feel restless.

Two days later fear gripped people when dacoits struck at the house of hotel-owner Tarachand Sadarangani at Laxman Nagar. Police patrolling was intensified which led to a pause in dacoits’ activities. However, after a gap of one month dacoits struck with a vengeance, this time in Gandhi Nagar at Deviram Ahirwar’s house.

More dacoities followed in September. The pattern was similar. Half a dozen or more dacoits would take out the grill to enter the house, tie family members and rob them at gunpoint before making good their escape. The police contemplated every possibility and even mathematical progression was looked into for anticipating the next strike.

Panic gripped the State capital as a retired lecture’s house was looted on September 24. Three days later, the dacoits threw challenge at the police with a strike at chartered accountant Ajay Khandelwal’s house in Vidya Nagar where many IPS officers live. But that was to be the last of the series of dacoities.

The first major clue came when a cellphone looted from Moolchandani household was recovered from a Bangladeshi suspect in Bhopal. The police then got call records of the cellphone and sifted through thousands of calls before they traced the phone numbers that had received calls from Bangladesh. 

Using hi-tech tracking devices and with the assistance of cellphone service providers, the police tracked the exact places where these cellphones were in use.

A special team arrested the masterminds Fatima, 30, and Jalal Ali, 39, from the New Delhi railway station on October 20 and recovered some booty from their possession. Thus the ‘Operation Crack’ succeeded with the arrest of 14 gang members, including two women, spread across Madhya Pradesh. The police had claimed solving six dacoities with the arrest of the gang.

Looted amount was sent to Bangladesh through hawala transactions, the police said. After the gang was caught, DIG Bhopal Range Anuradha Shankar said, ‘Residents can now sleep safely’.