SRINAGAR: In a third such incident in Kashmir post-demonetisation, masked gunmen on Thursday robbed a bank in southern Pulwama district, making away with Rs 11 lakh, police and bank officials said.
The police officials said that the militants are clearly faced with a cash crunch in the aftermath of the government’s demonetisation move and have, therefore, turned bank robbers.
The police and witnesses said that a group of four masked men entered the Jammu and Kashmir Bank branch at Rantipora in Pulwama brandishing their AK 47 rifles at 1.15 pm.
They took the bank officials and some of the customers present in the premises as ‘hostages’ and then started breaking cash cabinets and closets before fleeing from the scene with Rs 11 lakh in various denominations including the new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes.
After being informed about the robbery, the J&K police and CRPF personnel arrived on the spot and started searches in the bank’s neighbourhood for the robbers.
No arrests could be made, however. Also, the security personnel briefly faced a hostile crowd of local youth who allegedly hurled stones at them, a report said.
The police sources said that the authorities concerned had prior knowledge about the militants’ movement in the area and, for that reason, the security forces were put on high alert.
It may be noted that barely ten minutes before the robbery, the members of Jammu and Kashmir police’s counter-insurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) were seen patrolling the area at the bank repeatedly.