This is the fifth attack by the group in six months; loot taken away in vehicles; no arrests so far

In the fifth such incident in less than six months, a gang raided the 68.14 acre-complex of the defunct SPIC Petrochemicals Limited on the Kossapur Main Road in Manali, grievously injured three security guards and looted tons of steel, copper, aluminium rolls and other scrap materials worth lakhs of rupees on Sunday morning.

Armed with sickles and iron rods, the 30-member gang entered the unit from the rear entrance around 11.30 p.m. on Saturday and attacked the dozen-odd security guards, who are mainly from Orissa, West Bengal and Assam.

The men, who were having their food, tried to seek the help of their colleagues at the main entrance but because they had nothing to defend themselves with, fled and hid in the bushes. The gang plundered the unit for nearly five hours, loading their scrap onto a row of vehicles parked on the other side of the compound wall of the unit.

After the gang left the unit, a few security men managed to alert senior security officials and the police. The seriously injured men — Pradeep Kumar Misra, Alipue and Dhandiram — were admitted at the Government Stanley Hospital on Sunday morning. “I was repeatedly attacked by a member of the gang as I tried to run away. We are very scared after the incident and want to return home; it is better than dying here for money,” said 39-year-old Pradeep, a migrant from Orissa.

At present, only 20 security personnel man the huge unit which has many moveable assets such as steel, copper and aluminium rolls. The guards, employees of a private security agency Chennai SSS Security and Detective agency, are armed with only lathis and torches. “We are poorly paid and don’t even have the basic infrastructure. After sunset, the unit is really controlled by the gang,” said 40-year-old Bhuvan Sharma, a guard from Guwahati in Assam.

During their investigation, police recovered a mobile phone of one of the members of the gang and the call record is being examined.

SPIC Petro was promoted by SPIC in 1994 to implement a project to manufacture purified terapthalic acid (PTA) and polyester fibre yarn. However, in lieu of dues amounting to Rs. 4,077 crore by SPIC to various creditors, the unit is currently under the Mumbai-based Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd and Stressed Assets Stabilisation Fund (SASF). The unit has been closed since December, 2009. Chennai SSS Security and Detective agency was appointed to take care of security in 2010.

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