A day after 77 lockers at the Gohana branch of Punjab National Bank in Sonepat district were robbed, the Sonepat police have announced an award of Rs 10 lakh for clues leading to arrests or a solution to the case. Sources claim a loss of around Rs 25 crore has resulted due to the robbery, though with locker holders not declaring official assets, this can only be a matter of conjecture.
The announcement came even as a number of locker holders gathered outside the bank and protested against the authorities, demanding compensation for the loss caused.According to bank officials, in the meticulously planned robbery, in which an 80-feet tunnel was dug, right up to the locker room, of 90 lockers in one cabinet, 77 lockers were found tampered with, while cash kept in another cabinet was found intact.
Anju Kalra, a bank customer, said her family had kept 800gm gold in the locker and were now left without any financial cover. Another customer Venod Kumar said, “My family kept jewellery for a marriage in the locker, but there is no corpus now.”
Senior Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) leader KC Banger, who led the protest, claimed that the planned nature of the robbery indicated serious lapses on the part of the bank. “The bank has deployed no guard and there are no CCTV cameras installed,” he claimed.
Haryana director general of police SN Vashisht said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under Gurgaon DIG Vivek Sharma had been formed to inquire into the case. Top police officials said the involvement of the bank employees could not be ruled out. “The suspects will be quizzed as and when required,” said an official Even as the police is yet to get a definite clue on the instruments and the modus operandi of the robbery, experts said in order to dig such a long tunnel, iron cutters must have been used to go right up the foundation of the two buildings. Sources said police had indeed recovered iron cutters from the spot. However, it has puzzled experts on how the tunnel was dug up in the absence of oxygen supply.
UNUSED BUILDING BECAME CONDUIT
The building that served as the starting point of the tunnel used to loot the bank had been lying unused for more than a decade. There are around five rooms in the structure, situated just a lane away from the bank. Locals said the building belonged to one Mahabir Singh, who shifted base to Rohtak long ago. The police claimed the building was abandoned as it was a disputed property.
‘NO PROVISION TO COMPENSATE LOCKER HOLDERS’
Punjab National Bank chief manager Vinod Kumar Mathur, who was transferred to the branch, immediately after the incident, said there was no provision to provide any insurance or claim to locker holders as no assets were declared, while giving out a locker on hire.
Mathur, who joined duty on Tuesday morning, was evasive on who could be held responsible for the loss to the locker holders.
FORENSIC TEAM VISITS
Forensic laboratory team officials who visited the spot, said it robbery involved at least six people and these would have needed to stay inside the abandoned building for over a month. The DGP added it was apparent that professionals had ben roped in for the task.
“We have formed a number of teams and sent them on raids,” he added.
JOINT INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHIEF COMES CALLING
CHANDIGARH: Chairman of Joint Intelligence Committee in the union government RN Ravi on Tuesday visited Gohana. He told Haryana police officials that any assistance or logistic support would be provided on priority.