A three-member gang, armed with a gun and knives, barged into a petrol bunk located at Kollukkarankuttai near Panruti in the early hours of Sunday, tied up the employees and took away Rs.55,000 in cash.

Subsequently, when they were chased by a police team and local people, one of them trained the gun on the police personnel.

Gopalakrishnan (30) of Paavaikulam suffered a bullet injury on his right knee.

The police overpowered one of the knife-wielding culprits R. Selvam, a native of Aarapalayam in Madurai district. Before being caught, he caused a minor injury on the arm of training Sub-Inspector Rajkumar attached to the Kadampuliyur police station.

Two others went into hiding in the cashew groves in the area. Inspector General of Police (North Zone) Sylendra Babu and Superintendent of Police P. Pakalavan have launched a combing operation in the entire area.

Narrating the incident, the IG told The Hindu that when the robbers struck at the petrol bunk owned by Govindarajan, two employees, Karthikeyan (30) of Silambinathanpettai and Shanmugam (40) of Meenakshipettai were on duty.

According to them, three persons, wearing jerkins and T-shirts forcibly opened the bunk door about 4 a.m. and threatened them at gun and knife points to part with the cash.

When they did not oblige, one of them fired a gunshot on the floor and two others brandished knives. Later, they tied up the two employees with an electric wire found there.

Later, they snatched the key of the almirah from the employees and took away the cash. The desperadoes then coolly walked away from the scene.

After a while occupants of a lorry, including Mr. Gopalakrishnan, learnt from the bunk employees about the robbery.

Gopalakrishnan told them that he had seen three persons walking near the Kadampuliyur bus stand and suspected that they would be the robbers.

The bunk employees and Mr. Gopalakrishnan drove to the Kadampuliyur police station and alerted the police. Soon, SI Gunaseelan, training SI Rajkumar and two constables rushed to the spot.

Mr. Gopalakrishnan said that on sighting the trio, he managed to lay his hand on an iron rod from a nearby garage and started chasing them.

Suddenly one of them shot him on his right knee. However, Mr. Rajkumar overpowered one of the robbers, despite having suffered a cut injury in the arm.

Mr. Gopalkrishnan was taken to the Cuddalore headquarters government hospital and later shifted to the Puducherry government hospital for surgery.

Search continues

Mr. Sylendra Babu said that the police are continuing the search in the cashew groves for the other two identified as Dinesh of Tiruchi and Prakash of Tirunelveli. Mr. Pakalavan said that the type of gun was yet to be ascertained and most probably it was a country-made.