They had maintained that the bank robbers opened fire

Ballistic and forensic reports in the Velachery police shootout case appear to validate the claims of the Chennai Police that the suspected bank robbers opened fire at them using pistols and revolvers, police sources said on Monday.

While forensic analysis of swabs collected from the hands of five suspects shot dead in the incident confirmed residue of gun powder, ballistic reports established that some bullets seized from the scene were fired from the weapons of the accused. The reports have reached the Crime Branch CID which is investigating the case, the sources said.

The case pertains to the killing of five suspects belonging to Jharkhand and West Bengal by the police at their suspected hideout in Velachery on the night of February 23, 2012.

Police said the suspects were involved in two bank robberies and recovered a portion of the robbed money from their premises. Officials of both the nationalised banks who witnessed the bodies in the mortuary identified the accused.

“Experts have carefully analysed the line or direction of firing from both sides. Considering the nature of injuries and other aspects, reports indicate the accused persons were on the move and not stationary. Going by the statements of local people, police retaliated to the firing,” an investigator told The Hindu.

The police official, whose claims The Hindu was not able to independently verify, requested anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media on the matter.

The CBCID is expected to file a status report in the court soon. An enquiry by a Judicial Magistrate is also on into the firing. The bank robbery cases are being investigated by the Chennai Police who maintained that efforts were on to trace the remaining part of the booty and special teams were coordinating with the Bihar and Jharkhand police in that regard.

The sensational bank robberies planned and executed on Mondays (January 23 and February 20) remained without a breakthrough initially and the first tip-off came from video footage recorded in another nationalised bank where the prime suspect in the case, Sujay Kumar Rai alias Vinod Kumar, conducted a recce. Kumar was allegedly involved in major crimes in different States, including three bank dacoities in Mumbai (Maharashtra), the sources said.

The Velachery police firing, which resulted in the largest number of deaths in a single encounter in the State, hit the headlines and ran into controversy after human rights activists dismissed the “exchange of fire” theory of the city police and accused them of stage-managing a “fake encounter.”

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