To ascertain whether suspected bank robbers opened fire

The Crime Branch CID that is investigating the Velachery police encounter case has sent powder residual swabs for chemical analysis to ascertain whether the five suspected bank robbers shot dead in an encounter by the Chennai Police had opened fire.

The case pertains to the gunning down of five suspects, four from Bihar and one belonging to West Bengal, on the night of February 23 at Velachery.

The police team investigating two bank robberies (reported in the city on January 23 and February 20) claimed it had gone to check the house based on a tip-off. The suspects opened fire at them and they retaliated in self-defence. After an exchange of fire, all the five suspects received bullet injuries and were declared dead when brought to hospital.

“A chemical analysis of the swabs wiped on the hands of the suspects can reveal traces of gun powder. If they had opened fire using the revolver or pistol seized from the scene of crime, there is a possibility of gun powder residue on the hand…this can be scientifically proved,” a CB-CID official said.

Investigators have also sent the weapons, ammunition and the remains of ammunition seized from the encounter scene for obtaining the opinion of ballistic experts.

“The material evidences were sent for forensic analysis through the court. We have to check whether the bullets allegedly fired by the suspects were shot from the guns seized from their possession,” the official said.

The CB-CID would soon send an interim report to the National and State Human Rights Commissions, which had sent notices seeking a report on the encounter.

Sources in the Chennai Police said efforts were on to trace the Rs.19 lakh plus robbed from the Bank of Baroda branch at Perungudi on January 23. Though the police seized Rs.14 lakh robbed from the Keelakattalai branch of Indian Overseas Bank from the hideout of the suspects, the remaining amount remains untraced.

An official in the special team investigating the bank robbery cases said“We are in the process of analysing their mobile phone call records. Our focus is on finding the remaining cash and also unearthing the network of the suspects.”