KEONJHAR: Nilakantha Sankhari, the mastermind of the highway dacoity gang which was involved in theft of aluminium-laden trucks, was arrested by Keonjhar Police along with seven of his accomplices from Turumunga area near NH-49 here on Tuesday night.
Police seized sharp weapons, two aluminium-laden trucks, as many motorcycles, five SUVs and 13 mobile phones from their possession. Four others belonging to West Bengal, who purchased the stolen goods from them, have also been nabbed.
On October 15, Angul Police had arrested 10 members of same gang that used to intercept aluminium carrying-trucks from Sambalpur and Jharsuguda districts and kill the drivers and helpers. They used to sell the stolen goods in the grey market at Kolkata. The series of robberies and murders had prompted Director-General of Police Sanjeev Marik to set up a special cell at Crime Branch, which was entrusted with coordinating the investigation. Angul Police, which formed a special unit, laid a trap between Handappa and Boinda on the NH and arrested the gang members.
Western range Inspector General of Police (IG) R K Sharma said the gang killed at least 12 drivers and helpers in the last 10 months. The seven other members of the gang are Baidyanath Bahalia alias Chagala of Jajpur, Sridhar Naik alias Dipu and Babuli Nayak of Cuttack district, Pradeep Kumar Nayak alias Babu of Dhenkanal, Subash Behera alias Chamara of Keonjhar, Prashanta Barik alias Tiki of Keonjhar and Sk Harron of Balasore. The four buyers from West Bengal are Mantosh Sharma, Rabi Kumar Sharma, Animesh Chakravorty and Rajiv Roy. Sharma said the gang used to dispose of the stolen aluminium coils at M/s Sunita Engineering Works and other factories in Kolkata.
On August 19, the eight had stolen an aluminium-laden truck from NH-49 at Kanjipani under Keonjhar district, murdered its driver, Brijlal Sahoo, and threw his body at a forest near Jashipur in Mayurbhanj district. The helper, Rana Besan Bisoi, however, managed to escape. The gang was involved in about 20 such cases of theft and targeted trucks carrying aluminium from Hindalco, Nalco and other places, the IG said.
The gang, which was rounded up by Keonjhar Police led by SP Kavita Jalan, was planning to commit a dacoity at Turumunga near NH-49. During interrogation, they confessed to have sold the aluminium coils to Mantosh, Rabi, Animesh and Rajiv at Kolkata. Subsequently, the West Bengal cops were alerted and the four arrested.
Sharma said in the last 10 months, the gang committed dacoity at Hirakud, Jaleswar, Nichinda, Angul, Kanjipani, Athagarh, Parjang, Khamar, Ghatagaon, Baranga, Tangi, Jakhapura and Talcher.