People organise themselves to stop car; two arrested

Within hours of a four-member gang robbing two fuel station employees of Rs. 24.60 lakh at gunpoint near Sulur on Tuesday, the Coimbatore Rural Police caught two of them and seized a portion of the cash.

The police seized a pistol and the car that was used in the operation.

Superintendent of Police E.S. Uma said that the police with help from members of the public managed to nab Palanisamy (35), a farmer, and Sundaram (30), car driver, both hailing from Gobichettipalyam in Erode district.

Two others managed to escape. Ms. Uma said that soon after Loganathan (32), manager of Elango Service Station, left the office along with Eswaran (50), driver, at around 11 a.m. in a jeep, the gang rammed a car on it from behind.

The two were on the way to the Dr. Nanjappa Road branch of a nationalised bank to deposit the Rs. 24.60 lakh collected at the fuel station in the last three days.

Mr. Eswaran stopped the jeep and came out to see what had happened.

One of the four from the car, armed with a pistol, ran towards Mr. Loganathan to snatch the bag carrying cash.

Sensing that something was amiss, Mr. Eswaran returned to the vehicle.

By the time, the man who had snatched the bag and another person who was waiting outside the car got into it and sped away from the spot.

Mr. Eswaran started the jeep to chased the car. Mr. Loganathan alerted their employer Elango of Pollachi. Mr. Elango alerted the police.

After learning that the gang was proceeding towards Annur on the Annur-Karumathampatty Road, Mr. Loganathan again alerted Mr. Eswaran, who, in turn, got in touch with his friend Theppeswaran, the chairman of Moparipalayam town panchayat.

Mr. Theppeswaran mobilised his supporters and friends and lay in wait for the car by blocking the road with vehicles.

On seeing the road blocked, the gang diverted the vehicle to a lane to escape.

Sources said that the gang fired two shots in the air to scare the people. But the police have not confirmed this.

Mr. Theppeswaran, who knew the topography of the panchayat well, asked a few of his supporters to block all the exits.

The gang, however, managed to flee towards Annur.

The people then informed the police.

Highway Patrol headed by Sub Inspector Maruthaiah Pandian was asked to stop the car.

On seeing the police at one end of the road and people at the other end, the gang tried to escape by getting out of the car.

But car driver Sundaram lost control of the vehicle and it fell into a roadside pit.

The people and police managed to nab two persons by around 2 p.m.

She said that she could not confirm whether the accused were in possession of automatic weapons or not.