KERALA

Six held for daylight robbery on NH Bypass

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM April 9. Six persons, including a notorious gangleader, "Malayan'' Dileep, have been arrested in connection with the daylight robbery of Rs. 6 lakhs from the cashier of a private foreign currency exchange firm on the National Highway Bypass near Thiruvallam under the Nemom Police Station limits on March 1.

Apart from Dileep, those arrrested are "Chemban'' Chandu (28) of Chakkai, Hanifa (30) of Vizhinjam, Sabu (30) of Kovalam, Nizam (29) of Thiruvallam and Santha (30) of Kulathupuzha in Kollam district.

The Nemom Circle Inspector, Ajay Babu, said Dileep (30), a resident of Cheruvickal, had headed the operation.

He was out on bail after being recently convicted by the district court in connection with the rape of a fisherwoman in Medical College in 2000.

The second accused, Chandu, is wanted in several cases, including a case of brown sugar peddling. Hanifa and Sabu were in the restaurant business at Kovalam and were familiar with movements of the cashier, Anand, who heads the Kovalam branch of the currency exchange firm.

The Circle Inspector said Hanifa and Sabu knew that the cashier brought large sums of money from his head office in the city to the Kovalam branch.

They sought the help of Dileep for robbing the cashier and Dileep in turn sought the assistance of Chandu and one Shanawaz, who is yet to be arrested.

Nizam provided the motorcycle used for the waylaying operation. Santha, a sex-worker, had harboured Dileep and Chandu at her house in Kulathupuzha after the robbery was carried out.

Both Hanifa and Sabu had shelled out money to meet the expenses of Dileep and his gang while Nizam lodged the gang at his house near Muttathara.

The gang studied the route taken by the cashier and decided to waylay him near a relatively less populated stretch of the National Highway.

Dileep, Chandu and Shanawaz tailed the cashier on a motorbike from Thiruvallam bridge and snatched the money.

After the operation, the gang members had fallen out with each other over the issue of sharing the loot.

When Dileep offered Hanifa and Sabu Rs. 20,000, they refused to accept it and left in a huff. Nizam was also disgruntled that he did not get any money from the operation.

Dileep gave Rs. 1.60 lakhs to Chandu and kept the rest for himself. With the money, Dileep bought a new bike and settled some of his debts.

Chandu gave Rs. 1.10 lakhs to Shanawaz on Dileep's directions and kept Rs. 50,000 for himself.

Soon Chandu demanded a larger share and the two fell out with each other.

On the basis of a tip-off provided by Titus, a policeman attached to the Crime Squad of the City Police Commmissioner, Rajan Singh, Hanifa and Sabu were arrested from Kovalam.

While Dileep and Santha were arrested from Kulathupuzha, Chandu was netted by the Crime Squad.

The police said all the accused would be produced before the court on Thursday.