They flashed fake identity cards to buy motorcycles

The five-member gang that robbed two nationalized banks at gun-point here allegedly used motorcycles to commit the offence. An automobile dealer identified two of the five suspects shot dead in an encounter by the police and claimed that they bought motorcycles from him, police sources said on Friday.

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Even as enquiries in Bihar revealed that some of the voter identity cards seized from the hideout of the suspects on Thursday were reportedly fake, the owner of U.R. Automobile Consultant on Bells Road in Chennai is said to have met senior police officials and identified two of the suspects, the sources said.

He claimed that the duo visited his shop and purchased motorcycles on two occasions using voter identity card as proof of genuineness. They bought the first motorcycle on January 22 and returned it a couple of days later on the pretext that it did not serve their purpose.

“The accused used the bike to commit robbery in the Bank of Baroda branch in Perungudi on January 23. They bought another bike on February 18 and tried to return it four days later on the same excuse…however, the dealer refused to take it back. This bike was also used to commit the bank robbery in Keelkattalai. It appears that they abandoned the motorcycle near their flat in Velachery,” a police official said.

On the first occasion, the gang used a voter identity card bearing number ‘WSG002541' issued in the name of one Harish Kumar, son of Panchi Ray, Purushottampur, Raghopur constituency, Vaishali district and in the second purchase they used the voter identity card bearing number ‘RBL0378852' issued in the name of Chandrika Ray son of Kripali Ray, Maujipur, Fatuah constituency, Patna district (both in Bihar).

Bihar police informed

“We have sent copies of the five voter identity cards to the Bihar police for verification. The robbers attached their photographs to the fake voter identity cards. When we operated, we were not bothered about their identity…they fired at us and we retaliated in self-defence,” Commissioner of Police J.K. Tripathy told The Hindu.

Mr. Tripathy said a police team went to the flat in Velachery for verification based on a tip-off. “They never let us in. On seeing the police, the gang opened fire indiscriminately….had we not retaliated at that point of time, police personnel or civilians could have been shot at,” he said.

In another development, investigators on Friday seized a SIM card near the Indian Overseas Bank branch in Keelkattalai where a motorcycle stolen from the Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus (CMBT), Koyambedu, was also found abandoned on February 20. Investigation revealed that the SIM card belonged to one of the mobile phones snatched by the suspects while fleeing from the bank, the sources said.

Detailed report sought

The Director General of Police, Bihar, has sought a detailed report from the Tamil Nadu on the encounter case. On instructions from Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, he called the Director General of Police K. Ramanujam on Thursday evening and wanted to know the details of the incident, police sources added.