Jewellery worth Rs 2 cr looted from Muthoot

Five masked men looted gold jewellery estimated to be worth around Rs 2 crore from an office of Muthoot Finance Limited after holding the employees hostage at gunpoint in Lucknow's Alambagh area on Thursday morning.

The robbers struck at 9 am, when other shops and offices in the area were still closed. They entered the office posing as customers, took all seven employees to the kitchen and washroom at gunpoint and locked them up.

Branch Manager Abhay Shankar Tiwari, who arrived after some time, was also held at gunpoint before he could think of doing anything.

Tiwari said the robbers carried guns and knives. They aimed a gun at him and cashier Parikshit Awasthi and asked them to open the strong room where jewellery worth more than Rs 10 crore was kept. However the robbers did not take all the jewellery, he said.

After the robbers left, the employees came out by breaking the kitchen door, sounded the security alarm and informed the police. It is not clear how the robbers arrived and how they got away with the loot because there were no eyewitnesses. Also, they did not harm any employee.

Tiwari said they were calculating the worth of the jewellery which the robbers carried in a rucksack and a polybag.

Alambagh Station House Officer Pramod Kumar Singh said they had been told that only about 20 per cent of the jewellery was robbed, but an exact assessment was yet to be made.

The office had a security guard at the entrance, but he was not armed and was inside the office when the robbers arrived. He was also held hostage along with the other employees.

"Till a month back, the guard had a gun but after the Reserve Bank of India issued new instructions for not providing guns to securitymen at non-banking branches, his gun was withdrawn," said the manager.

The office is situated on Lucknow-Kanpur road about a kilometre from the Alambagh police station and near two police outposts of Sardarikheda and Alambagh bus station. The police have lodged an FIR of dacoity on the complaint of the branch manager.

This is the second such incident in the city in two days. On Wednesday, three men had attacked and looted 2 kg gold from a businessman in Charbagh area.

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