Pradeep Pattanayak

A day after the looters involved in the Narayanapatna bank heist in Bhadrak were arrested, the police apprehended nine members of a gang wanted in connection with Dhenkanal’s Rasol bank loot case on Monday.
However, the back-to-back incidents have only added to the rising concerns over the safety of money and other valuables lying in bank strong rooms in the State. Notable, in both the incidents, the gangs had targeted the bank strong rooms. 

The police on Monday apprehended nine members of a gang that had robbed the Rasol branch of Odisha Gramya Bank in Dhenkanal district on January 12. Looted articles including gold jewelry weighing over five kilograms and other ornaments weighing around seven kilograms were recovered from them. The estimated value of the recovered ornaments has been pegged at more that Rs 2 crore. 
Apart from the ornaments, the cops also seized Rs 11, 55,000 in cash, a car, two motorcycles and a scooter from their possession. On January 12, the gang had forced their entry into the bank and after brandishing firearms, locked up three staff in the strong room before decamping with the booty.  

Dhenkanal SP Divya V said, “While six members of the gang were directly involved in the bank heist, five were involved in orchestrating the plot. We have managed to arrest nine of them so far. Besides 5.358 Kg gold, Indian currency notes valuing Rs 11.55 lakh have been recovered from them."

Nevertheless, the two cases of bank robberies have put a question mark on the sincerity of the bank authorities in following the rules and specifications laid out by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for the safe keep of strong rooms. 

Some bank officials attributed the increasing cases of bank loot to the bank authorities ignoring the standard specifications to be followed while setting up a locker. 
“Most branches don’t have strong rooms as per RBI guidelines. So thieves find those as soft targets. This apart, since most banks are left unguarded at night, intensified patrolling from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am by the police could make a difference,” observed the convener of Bank Officers’ Association, Damodar Nanda.