The third bank robbery reported in Kashmir within a period of one month has send banks and security agencies into tizzy over the recurrence of such incidents forcing financial institutions to take up the matter with law enforcement agencies.
However, Police claims that it had "got initial leads about the suspected militants involved in robberies".
As per police officials, the militants running away with Rs 9 lakh from South Kashmir's Ratnipora branch of state-owned J&K Bank on Thursday was the third bank robbery reported in less than a month in Kashmir.
"In last one month, three bank branches have been robed and militants have managed to loot estimated Rs 35 lakh," said a senior police official.
Police officials believe the recurrence of bank robberies to be "handiwork of militant" who they claim to "have run short of cash due to demonetization".
The first robbery took place at Malpora area of Charar-e- Shareef on November 21, when four masked men robbed a bank and decamped with Rs 13 lakh.
On December 8, another bank was looted in Arihal, Pulwama when Rs13 lakh was taken away by the gunmen in broad daylight.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Special DGP Coordination, Law & Order, SP Vaid said that police has already initiated steps to prevent bank robberies.
"Although there are so many bank branches in Kashmir including rural areas and providing security to all of them is a difficult task, but police has heightened vigil and all efforts are being undertaken to neutralize robbers at the earliest," he said.
When asked about the investigation about the bank robberies, Vaid said, "It is a handiwork of militants and during preliminary investigation we have got some vital leads and I am confident we will work out on this."
Meanwhile, the militant outfits have denied any role in the bank robberies. Recently the militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) in a statement denied their role and said, "Laskar never indulged in such immoral and shameful activities."
While no other militant outfit has claimed responsibility.
However, the bank authorities have taken up the issue or recurrence of bank robberies with the law enforcement agencies.
"Obviously it is an issue of law and order and we have taken up the matter with concerned agencies as the banks are not equipped to stop armed men from barging into bank branches. It is a job of law enforcement agencies who are equipped to tackle such situations," said a senior bank official.
The bank officials further stated that the recurrence of such incidents has created "fear psychosis" among bank employees particularly those working in rural areas.
Post-demonetisation the Ministry of Home Affairs had directed bank to enhance security and install surveillance cameras.