Five bank robbery suspects killed in Chennai shootout

Attackers paid no heed to police warning to surrender: Commissioner

Five bank robbery suspects killed in Chennai shootout

In a stunning turn to the Chennai police’s search for an elusive gang that robbed two nationalized banks at gun-point within a month, five youths suspected to be involved in the two incidents were killed in a police shoot out here on Thursday.

The encounter came barely 12 hours after the city Police Commissioner J K Tripathy on Wednesday had released a photo of the suspected gang kingpin from the CCTV footage. The rapid-fire events sent shock-waves across Tamil Nadu.

The five suspects namely Vinod Kumar of Raipur in Chattisgarh, Harish Kumar of Vaishali in Bihar, Abhay Kumar from Howrah,West Bengal, Vinay Prasad from Nalanda in Bihar and Chandrika Rai from Patna were holed up in a rented house in Vellachery in south Chennai, the place of the shoot out. Tripathy told a crowded news conference here this afternoon that on a tip-off from a neighbour in the locality around midnight on Wednesday a police party rushed to the place for physical verification. The city police had been receiving several calls since Wednesday morning once the pictures of the suspects were  in public domain.

Fingerprints lifted from the January 23 site of robbery at Bank of Baroda branch at Perungudi and the latest instance of the looting of Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) branch at Keelkattalai pointed to a single gang’s involvement in the two crimes. The late last night’s message led the police to a congested area in Velacherry. Tripathy said his men on reaching the house around 1 am on Thursday sought to search the premises. But to their rude surprise, even before they could do so the five men inside the house “started attacking” with their firearms, he said.

Warning

Tripathy said the police team comprising 14 cops “warned them” to surrender, but they did not stop their firing. They  continued the firing through the window. The police, thereafter in “self-defence” broke open the door and “in the process firing took place,” the Commissioner said.

In the exchange of fire two police constables and the five youths were injured. Around 2 am they were all rushed to the Government Royapettah Hospital in central Chennai, where the five suspects were declared “brought dead”. The two constables were admitted for treatment. The bodies of the five others were taken to the Rajiv Gandhi General Hospital for post-mortem.

Later, the police recovered five small arms, “probably country-made”, from the  scene of the shoot out,  Tripathy said. Besides, five pistols, two revolvers, some magazines and ammunition, Rs 14 lakhs in cash, cell-phones and sim-cards were also seized.

The FIR, based on the complaint given by the police team leader, a deputy commissioner of Adyar, has been referred to an enquiry by a Judicial Magistrate. The police commissioner declined to give any further details. He said the names and addresses of the five accused had been found and that their individual backgrounds were being probed.

Tripathy justified the police action saying it was in  self defense and to protect civilians. The police had to carry weapons as “we knew the suspects had some kind of fire-arms,” he said. He said the police zeroed in on suspicious looking person after watching “some 400 hours of CCTV footage” of other nearby city banks prior to the first bank robbery.
The neighbours complained: “We could not sleep whole of last night since we woke up to the loud gun-shots.”  

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