“The guards had left their posts without informing the officials concerned”
SALEM: A police rifle was stolen from the guard room of the Sub Treasury Office at Pennagaram in Dharmapuri district, once considered a hotbed of naxalite activities, late on Sunday night.
On February 9, six guns and a walkie-talkie were stolen from the ‘bell room’ of the Adiyamankottai police station in the district. Though five of them were recovered from a bush nearby on February 16, the sixth one and the walkie-talkie are yet to be traced.
Highly placed police sources said head constables Akbar Basha and Natarajan, who were on night duty at the Pennagaram treasury office on Sunday night, reportedly left their posts to have dinner at a nearby place after leaving the gun in the room under lock. When they returned, they found the lock and the gun missing.
Dharmapuri SP Najmul Hoda said the guards had left their posts without informing the officials concerned.
West Zone IG of Police Sanjay Arora, who is coordinating the investigation from Pennagaram, told The Hindu that after preliminary investigation, the head constables had been suspended and detained under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code read with 25 (i)(b) of Indian Arms Act. Both had been remanded to judicial custody.
An inspector and two sub inspectors attached to Pennagaram police station, under whose jurisdiction the incident took place, had also been placed under suspension for negligence and lack of supervision.
“We hope to trace the missing weapon shortly,” said Mr. Arora.
Salem Range DIG N. Chenbagaraman is camping at Pennagaram.
A massive hunt for the missing rifle has been launched. Road blocks have been erected at various points along the Salem-Bangalore national highway.