At a time when people across the country are struggling to draw cash, militants in Kashmir rob have been repeatedly robbing banks. In the past around a month, at least four robberies have taken place in the restive Valley.
On December 15, four armed militants, pretending to be students with backpacks, barged into JK Bank branch at Ratnipora, Pulwama and left with Rs 9.84 lakh cash at gunpoint. It was third such incident in this south Kashmir district in the recent past.
SSP Pulwama Rayees Muhammad Bhat identified three of them as Arif Dar alias Abu Rehan, a local, and Abu Ismail and Abu Ali as Pakistani nationals.
He said that the trio was identified from CCTV footage because none of them were wearing masks. “Identity of the fourth one is being ascertained.” The SSP said that a massive manhunt has been launched to nab them.
The CCTV footage accessed by InUth shows militants asking the people inside the bank to quietly assemble at one place with their hands up.
Interestingly, there was no hue and cry. Unaware of the scene inside, visitors keep coming to the bank only to be taken by surprise when warned for “hands up”. Nobody makes any sound till militants flee with cash.
The police said that the gang was involved in all the four robberies including the one which took place in Chrar-e-Sharief area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district on November 21 when armed gunmen decamped with nearly Rs 13 lakh cash. J&K bank branches were the target all the times.
Though the Pulwama police claimed to have busted a “group of Over Ground Workers of LeT” linked to these robberies, the kingpins continue to be at large.
A senior police official said that the two Pakistani nationals associated with the group are “very tall” and that some villagers have seen them, wielding weapons in full public gaze.
“We are on the trail… Ultimately they will be neutralized in encounter very soon,” the police official said.