The Vikramgad police, with the help of the villagers, on Friday arrested 12 dacoits after they robbed a jewellery store.
On Thursday, the dacoits from Zabua gang appeared in the market area, fired two rounds and started to pelt stones on the crowd. Few of them entered Mahalaxmi Jewellers and beat up the store’s security guard, Kashiram Thapa, and owner, Mahadeo Kathre.
They threatened to kill the owner’s son, Ajinath Kathre, and stole 850gm of gold and Rs 1.5 lakh cash.
“The dacoits came on foot. We identified a 10km circumference in the jungle and formed search teams of 200 policemen and 300 villagers. Each team had 15 villagers and five armed policemen. Our constables climbed trees and fought with the dacoits,” said Vishwas Nangare-Patil, superintendent of police, Thane rural.
“These dacoits are members of the Zabua gang. The home minister has announced a cash prize of Rs 1,00,000 for the policemen and the villagers,” said Nangare-Patil.
According to the police, the speedy arrest of the accused was possible due to the villagers’ knowledge of the jungle. One of the villagers, Parag Pashte, 38, single-handedly caught one of the accused.
Narrating the incident, Pashte said: “M friend Santosh Bhoi had told me that dacoits had looted a jewellery store. On Friday, I was in my car when I saw four men running through the jungle near Hunda village. I asked my driver to stop the vehicle and ran towards the jungle.
“One of the men was hiding in the bushes and even fired at me. I finally managed to catch him after a chase and brought him to the police station. I decided to return with other villagers and helped them bring back seven to eight more dacoits to the police station,” he said.
According to the police, the arrested are in their twenties and are all residents of Zabua in Madhya Pradesh. They have been identified as Kapchi Sukhiya, 23, Pima Khimla, 22, Gendu Damora, Dublya Gambhir Simmadia, Nanu Babhiya, 19, Mangliya Valiya, 18, Bahadur Bhilla, 18, Nimoda Mavi, 22, Tammu Manglya, Gaalu Manglia, Dhuriya Hakla Mavi, 19, and Kalla Nigdiya. More arrests are likely to be made.
“There are three-four accused who are yet to be arrested,” said Nangare-Patil.