Demonstration at Muthoot finances’ Durgapur office

Latest news report from Durgapur says, that the people who had mortgaged their gold with Muthoot Finance for loans in Durgapur demonstrated outside the branch office of the finance company and gheraoed the regional manager yesterday, claiming the company had themselves staged the over Rs 12-crore robbery.
Even four days after the unprecedented heist, the police seemed clueless about the identity of the robbers, who took away 36kg of gold in the form of ornaments and coins apart from a cash of 14 lakhs. Intervention of CID official has been sought in the case, and the CID team has already visited the Muthoot’s Durgapur office on 3rd February.
A police officer said the gang of eight robbers had taken away the CCTV recorder from the Benachity branch on Friday, which was making it difficult to trace them. “We are yet to make any breakthrough. We suspect that the gang had come from some neighboring state. Past records of crimes in the Durgapur-Asansol belt, such as bank robberies and kidnappings, show that the culprits were from Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” the officer said.
A CID team sounded concerned over the fact that none of the eight alarm bells were pressed during the robbery on February 1st. One of the CID officer added that the only guard in the building “was aged and the robbers overpowered him easily” and pointed out that on January 31st, “a robbery attempt was foiled at Muthoot’s Chandernagore branch after an alarm button was pressed”.
Contacted, George Kuruvila, the senior regional manager of Muthoot’s Calcutta division, said the gang members were standing close to the alarm bells, which prevented the employees from pressing them. Kuruvila said the allegations of the borrowers were “not true”. “We expect the police to arrest the culprits soon and bring back the gold. The quantity of gold stolen is worth about Rs 13 crore. The gold was insured as is the practice,” he said in Calcutta.
In Durgapur, over 50 people demonstrated outside the company’s office and alleged that only those lockers were targeted that had large quantities of gold.
“The 29.30gm of gold I had mortgaged for a loan of Rs 52,000 was looted but the 18gm of jewellery I kept to borrow Rs 30,000 was intact. Why did the robbers only target the lockers that had large quantities of gold? How did they come to know about the particular lockers?” asked Lipika Ghosh, 30, a homemaker.
Some borrowers also accused the Kerala-based company of withholding information.
“The company officials are not telling us anything. Yesterday, they said they would give us compensation after deducting a portion when we repay our loan. But that’s all. None of our questions is being answered. They are making us wait for hours,” said Indranil Sur, a 40-year-old businessman who had deposited 74.6gm of gold to borrow Rs 1.35 lakh.
“Why did the company lack adequate security arrangements at its office where such a huge amount of gold was kept? We mortgaged our ornaments with Muthoot Finance thinking that our gold was in safe hands,” said Biswajit Neogi, 45, a businessman.
The demonstrators surrounded regional manager Suresh Kumar when he came out of his room to speak to them. Regional manager Kumar tried to pacify the agitators by saying they would not lose on their gold. “The people whose gold was robbed on Friday will be compensated either in cash or gold soon after they repay the loan. It would be difficult for us if they want it immediately. The process will take some time,” he said.
Asked about the complaints of lack of adequate security arrangements, Kumar said the company had taken enough precautions. Kuruvila, too, said: “We will strengthen our security further. Usually, there is one security person in a branch and two if the branch is big.”
Friday’s robbery of 36kg of gold in Durgapur is perhaps the biggest heist in the state in recent memory and has created a deep sense of insecurity among the local residents of Durgapur and surroundings.

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