Sahiwal: Bank robbers’ gang busted
SAHIWAL: The local police have arrested three men of a seven-member gang wanted in a series of bank dacoities in Punjab, including the one at UBL’s Harrapa branch on Jan 3 when they were allegedly planning another bank dacoity in Sohawa tehsil of Jhelum district a few days ago.
District Police Officer Syed Javed Husain Shah and Superintendent of Police (Investigations) Dr Rizwan produced the arrested outlaws — Iqbal alias Baba, Waseem and Ali Sher — before the local media here on Wednesday.
The police also claimed to have seized three pistols, 30 bullets, Rs500,000 in cash and a car from their possession. During preliminary interrogation, they admitted to at least five bank dacoities in different cities of the province from September 2007 to January 2008.
The Sahiwal police started pursuing the gang after a United Bank branch in Harrapa was robbed early this year. However, the police officials did not disclose when exactly they arrested the outlaws from Sohawa where they were allegedly conspiring another dacoity bid.
Iqbal alias Baba, a resident of Gulistan Colony, Sargodha, heads this gang. Iqbal Baba and Waseem, a resident of Madina Town, Faislabad, were initially involved in robbery of yarnthread from Factory Area in Faisalabad. After their arrest, they were incarcerated in 2004.
During imprisonment, they met five prisoners belonging to the NWFP, Ali Sher of Peshawar, Taj Gulab and Syed Akbar of Mardan, Nazir of Dera Ismail Khan and Bahadar of Mansehra. Later, they developed an association with them, leading to formation of a gang after their release in July 2007.
According to the police, their modus operandi was to target small banks located at the periphery of any city or town and they never stormed any corporate branch having outer walls made up of glass or where a ‘Vantage Point’ (small walled room having armed watchman inside) was constructed.
They used to hire cars from different cities and travel throughout the province. They also had records enumerating bank branches, which did not have stringent security features, including vantage points, available.
“Around 25 bank branches were on their hit-list in the days to come,” Dr Rizwan told reporters.
The gang started its operations by looting Rs1.5 million from Allied Bank Limited, Hazara Road, Hasanabdal, on Sept 6, 2007. Then they robbed Rs1.3 million from United Bank Limited, Samundari Road, Faisalabad, on Oct 30, 2007, Rs1 million from Muslim Commercial Bank, Kalar Kahar, Chakwal, on Nov 7, 2007, Rs600,000 from Habib Bank, Sialkot, on Nov 15, 2007, and the last one at United Bank Limited, Harrapa, on Jan 3, 2008, wherefrom they looted Rs2 million.
The Investigations SP had to travel to Mardan and Malkand areas to pursue Taj Gulab and Syed Akbar.
The SP said the outlaws had pre-hand information about his movement, and when he was sitting in Barmool, Kat Langh police station on Mardan-Malkand district boundary, they even threatened to kill him by launching a rocket attack on his vehicle, but he did not budge to their intimidation.
“We advise all banks to erect ‘vantage points’ on their premises to possibly prevent bank dacoities in future,” Dr Rizwan said. Staffers of the UBL, Harrapa, were also present during the briefing. Sadar Circle DSP Sajid Hasan and City Circle DSP Malik Dawood assisted SP Dr Rizwan to spot this gang.
The complete article can be found at Dawn News.