Police have detained five people for interrogation in this connection
A group of men have carried out an outrageous armed robbery on three Dhaka-bound buses as well as some trucks, motorcycles, and rickshaw-vans. They looted cash, jewellery and other valuables in Chapainawabganj.
The hour-long robbery took place near Shonajaal point on Bholahat-Shibganj Road at around 8:30pm on Monday.
Police have detained five people for interrogation in this connection, according to Bholahat police station Officer in-Charge (OC) Mahbubuir Rahman.
Five people were also injured during the incident for initially refusing to hand over their valuables.
According to locals, at 8:15pm on Monday, a group of masked robbers attacked the night coaches with machetes and sticks. At the time, the robbers assaulted the passengers and robbed them of cash and gold jewellery.
Trucks carrying mangoes were also looted at the time. Besides, the robbers also looted mobiles and cash from motorcycle riders as well as passengers and drivers of rickshaw-vans going through that road at the time.
One of the assistants of the buses claimed that the robbers had sexually harassed women inside the buses.
The supervisor of the Zamzam Travels bus, Alamgir stated: "When we stopped the bus, the robbers were already robbing some trucks, pickups and motorcycles in front of us."
There was no chance for us to escape. Seeing the bus pull up, the robbers started beating the assistant, got into the bus, beat up the passengers and robbed them of money and gold ornaments.”
Gani Biswas, a passenger on the Dhaka-bound Zamzam bus in Birswarpur village of Bholahat upazila, said: “The robbers came and beat me and my wife and took away Tk12,000, a gold chain and earrings.”
Meanwhile, Kanchan, a truck driver, said that the robbers beat him up mercilessly. “The robbers beat me up and took Tk10,000 in cash and three mobile phones from me.”
Bholahat Upazila Health Complex Medical Officer Dr Azharul Islam said that five people injured in the incident had received primary treatment.
Besides, many had received treatment at home, he said.
What officials say
According to Bholahat Police OC Md Mahbubur Rahman, the robbers fled before the police could reach the scene.
He said that the police were already conducting drives to arrest the culprits and recover the goods and cash robbed from passengers.
“Five people are being held and quizzed and a case will also be filed over the matter,” he said.
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He added that only three vehicles, of Coach Chapai Travels, Shathi Enterprise and Zamzam Travels, were robbed but some bus conductors had mistakenly spread reports that all vehicles, around 40, had come under attack.
Chapainawabganj District Additional Superintendent of Police (Administration) Md Mahbub Alam Khan said a few robbers had been arrested a few days back. “Maybe they got out on bail and started robbing again.”
What experts say
Criminologist Prof Dr Ziaur Rahman said: “We cannot determine the pattern of crime only by some rare examples. As we can see, robbery and snatching incidents have decreased compared to the past.”
“Robbery incidents in Chapainawabganj may have happened as unemployment has risen due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Or there may be a particular reason behind the robbery: political elites and police may be patronizing the culprits,” he added.
Zia, Professor of Criminology at Dhaka University, said: “We only can explain the crime hypothetically, but cannot say anything with certainty. Appropriate investigations must be conducted on this alarming incident. The law enforcers should act properly towards an in-depth investigation.”
Our reporter Fahim Reza Shovon contributed to this report.