Though police and bank officials were yet to give an estimate of valuables stolen from the Gohana branch of Punjab National Bank, 200 kms from here, it is expected that the stolen cash and jewellery would be worth crores.

The incident came to light yesterday morning when the bank was opened after a holiday by its manager Devender Malik, police said. They suspect the robbery was carried out on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday.

The tunnel to the bank which was dug up from a nearby unoccupied house was nearly 125-feet-long and 2.5 feet wide, police said, adding that a special investigation team has been set up to probe the robbery.

The robbers, who carried out the heist similar to those shown in Bollywood's popular 'Dhoom' franchise, randomly targeted the lockers which they could easily break.

Police have registered a case under relevant sections of the IPC in connection with the incident, but so far have not managed to achieve any breakthrough.

According to Sonepat's Superintendent of Police Arun Nehra, the thieves cleaned up 77 of a total 350 lockers at the bank, which is located in residential-cum-commercial area of Gohana town.
He blamed the bank authorities for not following proper norms mandatory for the storage place where lockers are kept.

"The job of the thieves was made easy as the floor of the locker room was an ordinary cement floor commonly seen in houses and it was easily punctured by the robbers.

"As per the norms, it should have been built up of a thick RCC and steel plates and other reinforcements should have been there which would have made it difficult or impossible for the miscreants to break-in," Nehra said.

He further said that it appears that the thieves also faced little difficulty in opening the lockers using ordinary iron tools.

Refuting the charges, bank manager Malik said, "We have followed the RBI guidelines. The floor was eight to nine inches in depth. Even the walls were built of solid concrete."
Malik said it appears the robbery was carried out after meticulous planning by the robbers which may have streched over several days.
Gohana branch of the PNB was one of the oldest bank branch having nearly 35,000 account holders... We are having saving deposits of about Rs 125 crore," he said.

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