Director-General of Police K. Ramanujam on Saturday transferred the police encounter case to the Crime Branch CID for further investigation.

The move follows a proposal sent by Commissioner of Police J.K. Tripathy.

Based on a complaint lodged by Deputy Commissioner of Police R. Sudhakar, the Velachery police registered a case pertaining to the death of five suspected bank robbers who were shot in an encounter by the police on February 23. Since senior police officials of the Chennai Police were involved in the incident, the case was transferred to another agency to ensure fair investigation, police sources said.

Sujay Kumar Rai alias Vinod Kumar, suspected kingpin in the bank robbery cases, is alleged to be one among the most wanted criminals by the Maharashtra police. He was involved in several major offences at least in three States, including three bank dacoities in Mumbai (Maharashtra), highly placed police sources said.

A native of Patna district in Bihar, Sujay was wanted by the police in connection with his alleged involvement in the bank dacoities that took place in 2010 in areas under the jurisdiction of Malad police station (June 21); Borivili police station (October 17) and Charkop police station (November10). Though others involved in the dacoity were arrested, Sujay absconded. A total of Rs. 81 lakh was robbed at gun-point in the three banks, a Joint Commissioner of Police here said.

“We also have information about his involvement in bank robbery cases in Chhattisgarh and Bihar. Requisitions seeking the antecedents of the suspects have been sent to the DGPs of different States,” the official said.

Bomb expert

According to a senior police official, Sujay was also an expert in making bombs. While making explosives in a clandestine factory near Patna, a bomb accidentally exploded resulting in his losing all fingers on the left hand. “We have been informed that he is involved in an Explosives Act case in Bihar. After identifying the bodies of other suspects in the case, we might get to know more about the activities of the gang,” he told The Hindu.

The official said bank officials had seen him holding a gun firmly while keeping the other hand in his trouser pocket most of the time.

“The witnesses remember him well. Of the three portraits developed based on the inputs given by the bank officials and customers, the portrait of Sujay matched to a large extent. He did most of the talking during the robbery. While one suspect spoke little Tamil and Telugu, the other three spoke only in Hindi.”

Family members of Sujay received his body after post-mortem at the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. They would soon proceed to their native village, the sources said, adding that Sujay's father, sister and others, who came to receive the body, gave conflicting versions on his activities.

With no clue emerging two days after the encounter on the network of the suspects and the booty they made in the Bank of Baroda branch in Perungudi here on January 23, special teams have rushed to Bihar, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand to check the antecedents of the gang.