At least six armed robbers killed a security guard and took away Rs 60 lakh from a Toyota Innova taxi in which cash was being ferried by staff of Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC) to nearby town Bagha Purana, here on Monday.
The robbery took place on the Kotkapura bypass on the outskirts of the town around 2pm, when guard Harinder Singh, OBC branch manager Parveen Sahu, peon Gulshan Kumar and private driver Baldev Singh, were returning to Bagha Purana, 17km from here, after getting cash from Bank of India’s chest situated on Moga’s Partap Road.
Sahu, in the first information report (FIR), said that when they reached near Radha Soami Satsang Bhavan on Kotkapura bypass, a white Hyundai Verna sedan, which had been behind them, stopped in front of the Innova car, while a red Hyundai i20 hatchback and another white car were already there. “Six or seven armed men, who had their faces covered, came out of the cars and started firing at us, resulting in the death of our security guard, while we immediately left the car,” he said.
At this, the robbers ceased fire and instead quickly pulled out the cash trunk kept in the boot space of the car after breaking the rear windshield with a baseball bat; and fled with the trunk in their cars towards Bagha Purana. They also took away the double-barrelled gun of the guard.
The murdered guard, Harinder Singh, 51, a retired army man from Kaleke village near here, was sitting in the front seat adjacent to the driver. He suffered two bullets on his chest and one in his face. Driver Baldev Singh said, “They fired two bullets towards me too when I was running after leaving the car; fortunately I was not hit.”
Eyewitnesses said that after the incident a group of people rushed to the crime site but in the absence of the police nobody took the injured guard to the hospital. He was reportedly writhing in pain while the police and an ambulance reached at least 20 minutes after the incident and took him to hospital.” He was declared brought dead at the Moga civil hospital.
Deputy inspector general of police (DIG), Ferozepur, Yurinder Singh Hayer rushed to the spot while a team led by superintendent of police (SP), investigation, Amarjit Singh started the probe. Inspector general of police (IGP), Special Task Force, RN Dhoke and IG, Bathinda, Tejinder Pal Singh also visited the crime site in the evening.
Missing police patrol, possible insider role
The Kotkapura bypass on the outskirts of Moga, where the robbery took place, usually has a highway patrol vehicle of the police stationed, but that wasn’t there on Monday afternoon. Police, meanwhile, are working on the angle that a bank insider could be involved. The taxi driver is among the suspects, said sources.
Terming it “miserable negligence” by the bank authorities, Amarjit said, “First, the bank authorities were carrying huge cash amount in a private taxi; and, also, they didn’t inform the police, otherwise we would have provided them with an escort.”
“We are ascertaining the modus operandi and using various techniques to get clues,” he added.
The case was registered under sections 302 (murder) and 392 (robbery) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), besides 25, 27, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act at the city (south) police station.