The robbing of an old, single woman on Friday night after bashing her head has set alarm bells ringing in the sleepy town of Jorhat in Upper Assam.
Now it is no longer snatching of large sums by helmeted motor cycle-borne youths or burglaries in shops or houses on small and greater scales but of assault and dacoity.
Kiran Baruah, a septuagenarian and a former employee of PWD, was robbed off Rs 5,000 from her house at Pitambar Deva Goswami lane, a bylane near the Janambhumi office complex in the heart of the town after being hit on the head by two or three assailants.
A source said the assailants had taken the keys from her before she was hit on the head.
After she regained consciousness, Baruah woke her neighbours by calling them over the cell phone, who in turn called the police near about 11 pm.
The source further said the tenants found no trace of a break in though the door and grilled verandah gate were open, deducing that at least one of the assailants may have slipped in and had been hiding inside from daytime.
Jorhat and other nearby districts have been suffering from a spate of snatching, robberies and vehicle lifting for about a year now.
However, no case of assault by dacoits or snatchers has been recorded.
On Thursday, Bhaskar Pathak, manager of Kamarbandha Tea Estate near Bokakhat was robbed off Rs 7 lakh which he left lying in car and had gone for shopping near the Jorhat Police Station.
He returned to find the car’s pane broken and the bag missing.
Two persons, who were arrested on Friday evening by Jorhat Police with the help of Kamarbandha police at Kamarbandha near Bokakhat in Golaghat district, have been linked to this theft.
They have also been linked to the theft of another Rs 7 lakh from a PWD contractor from the Meridian hotel about a fortnight ago.
It has been reported that a huge gang of thieves spread out in several districts of Assam and are being controlled by masterminds based in Kolkata, Delhi and Bihar.
In Jorhat, the spree of robberies began from January.
About 10 days ago, thieves broke locks of five shops in New Balibat area and succeeded in stealing cash in two shops.
The same night thieves had broken the lock of a paan shop at adjoining Old Balibat locality and took away a FM radio and the lock.
Prior to that incident, a thief stole money from the donation box attached to the entrance gate of the Purana Masjid at Old Balibat locality here by scaling up one of the boundary walls near the gate as per recorded CCTV images.
Last month too, a wholesale medicine shop at New Balibat area was burgled by thieves and took away Rs 2 lakh.
A Pulsar motorbike too was stolen from a bhujiya factory at Phansi Ali locality here last month.
Thieves had taken away two electric motors from water pump-sets from the same factory premises.
It may be mentioned that in January this year, Jorhat Police installed 32 CCTV cameras at different areas of the town under a project to assist in curbing crime.
Town Sub-Inspector Satish Sahoo on Saturday left with a team of policemen for Guwahati to net other members of the gang.