by Tahir Bhat

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SRINAGAR: Within two days after the sensational robbery in Jammu city, an embarrassed Jammu and Kashmir Police have said they arrested 10 people and four of them from neighbouring Punjab. Indications suggest that the sensational robbery may have some links with people who are already in jail in Jammu and Kashmir.

On December 7, at around 7 am, when major businessman Rakesh Aggarwal known as Kesha Baniya was coming out of his home for a morning walk, a group of ten young men barged in and pushed him back to his home. He lives in the Gandhi Nagar area. They all were hooded.

Hurriedly, they assembled all the inmates into the house and literally took them hostage. These included Rakesh, his wife Madhu, their son Sahib and their daughter-in-law. Their mobile phones were snatched by the intruders. The gangsters detailed the family members at gunpoint and made a whopping demand. Some of them were carrying weapons. Eventually, they collected Rs 11 lakh (some reports said Rs 15 lakh) and decamped without opening fire.

Reporting appearing in the media said the gangsters demanded two crore (some said Rs 15 crore) rupees but the family had only Rs 11 lakh which they handed over to them.

As they were leaving the premises with loot, they took Rakesh Aggarwal along with them – in order to ensure the family does not inform the police quickly – and let him go only after they reached Vikram Chowk.

Interestingly, the gang was not in hurry. They stayed put in the house for many hours, scanned every bit of the house and searched for money. Reports suggest they left only after 11:30 pm (one report said they left at 12:30 pm).

Aggarwals’ have told the media that the 10-member gang was wearing Khaki jackets and doing routine constable caps. The gang members even claimed to be from the cybercrime and crime branch. They also had handcuffs with them. Before leaving, they took the entire CCTV footage of the palatial house with them. Interestingly, they left in groups of two on foot and later four members left with Aggarwal, whom they left near Vikram Chowk. The gangsters had chosen a day when a public utility was being thrown open in the city suggesting that most of the police would be busy with the event. Besides, the family has told the police that they could distinguish that some of them were speaking chaste Punjabi and a few were locals as well.

This is unprecedented in the history of Jammu that a huge gang can get into a posh locality and choose a house not far away from a major police installation including police lines and the police headquarters. This has triggered panic in the temple city. The business community is especially in panic.

Aggarwal, it may be recalled here, is a major businessman. He is into multiple businesses. He runs Baniya Super Market in Raghunath Bazar and a hotel at Mansar under Honest Group of Hotels. Besides, he is into edible oil making as well. Aggrawals are a three-brother business group.

Police reached the spot almost immediately after the case was reported to them. They have collected some CCTV footage in and around the area on basis of which they have made some arrests. Police are not in a position to decide if all the weapons that gangsters brandished were real or fake.

A day after the case, police said they have rounded up four suspects. Besides, they said they questioned at least two gangsters from Jammu, who are in jail under the Public Safety Act. From the very start police would insist that the mere presence of such a huge group is impossible to have Jammu origins as gangs in Jammu exist in a group of two or three but not a dozen member gangs.

Now, police said they have arrested a total of 10 persons including four from Punjab. It is, however, not known if the detained are part of the gang or have some information that would lead to the gangsters. Police have not disclosed any details fearing revealing the identity of the detained can compromise investigations.

However, police have told some newspapers that some of the persons involved in the looting of the cash have been identified. Special police teams have been dispatched to Punjab where, with the assistance of Punjab police, various places are being raided for some arrests. “Clues have been gathered during questioning of four persons detained earlier by the police and four others nabbed from Punjab during the raids earlier today,” police said about the follow-up action on Friday.

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