SUHAIL A SHAH
ANANTNAG: Unidentified, armed men decamped on Tuesday with a cash amount of around Rs 5.78 lakh, robbed from a State Bank of India (SBI) branch here in Qaimoh area of Kulgam district.
Sources said the bank’s employees and visitors were held hostage at gunpoint by one of the armed men while two others looted the cash from inside the bank.
The incident took place at about 2:30 PM Monday afternoon in the busy Qaimoh market. The SBI branch is located in the middle of the market, next to a petrol pump.
“The militants were three in number and all of them were armed,” a senior police official told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the militants managed the robbery at gunpoint. “Further investigation is going on. We are looking at the CCTV footage to get a clue about the identities of the militants.”
Following the robbery, the whole area was cordoned off and searches were being conducted to try and nab the robbers. Amid the searches, the government forces were attacked with stones by some local youth.
The forces, as per local sources, fired tear smoke shells to disperse the stone-throwing youth and arrested some youths as well.
Bank robberies started in South Kashmir region days after demonetization was announced by the central government. Ever since, around 13 such robberies have been carried out in South Kashmir and cash worth almost a crore has been looted from various bank branches.
While police have held militants squarely responsible for these robberies, the militants have distanced themselves from such actions in statements given from time to time.
These months have also witnessed the looting of ATM machines in South Kashmir.