Kasaragod: A gang of robbers barged into the Eriyal branch of Kudlu Service Cooperative Bank located on the national highway on Monday afternoon around 2.
They bound and gagged a few staffers, threatened clients on the premises and took away a heavy loot. Initial estimate says that gold ornaments worth Rs 5.28 crore which had been pledged as collateral against borrowings and Rs 14 lakh have been taken away.
They first bound clerk Lakshmi and temporary employee Bindu to their chairs and gagged them to prevent them from shouting for help. A female customer, Bhanu of Manjattadka, too was threatened at knifepoint not to make or resist.
Besides looting 12-sovereign gold brought to the bank by the female customer, the robbers also snatched away the gold worn by Bindu. On their way out before escaping in two getaway motorcycles, they pushed Bhanu inside the bank. She recovered and ran out to alert the public, but by then the culprits had vanished.
Customers alleged that the manager had left behind the locker key on his table, which made the task of looting the bank easier for the robbers.
Old-timers said that about fourteen years ago also, a robbery had taken place in the same branch. About 7 kgs of gold had been taken away. For that matter, Kasaragod district has a long history of bank robberies, which have claimed three lives. Seventeen years ago, when a cooperative was looted, a person had been shot dead. In another instance, a watchman had been shot dead.
Besides two attempts of robbery at Vijaya Bank in Chattanchal and Syndicate Bank in Uduma, 15 kgs of gold had been taken away from a rural bank six years ago.
In the latest case at Eriyal, the bank had no night security nor CCTV system in place.