A State Bank of India ATM machine in Anantnag district, Srinagar, was stolen by unidentified men on the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday, reported news agency PTI. The men pulled out the entire machine, with all its cash in it, and fled, police said. A case has been registered and investigations are underway, the police added. The amount of cash stolen is yet to be calculated.
There have been 14 other instances of attacks on banks or money being looted in the state in the last six months. Armed robbers have looted nearly Rs 92 lakh since October 2016. In the most recent attack, on May 27, burglars looted an ATM belonging to the Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Kupwara district, making away with nearly Rs 15 lakh.
The situation has forced J&K Bank to stop cash transactions in nearly 40 of its branches across the state. The Corporate and Communications Head of the J&K Bank, Sajjad Bazaz, told The Indian Express, “The bank has stopped cash transactions at 40 branches after this police advisory. The branches are located in Pulwama and Shopian districts.”
In one of the incidents, armed gunmen intercepted a cash van at Pumbia village, near Kulgam town, killed seven people, five policemen and two bank security guards, have been killed. The militants stole the rifles belonging to the policemen, but found out that there was no cash in the van. The Hizbul Mujahideen, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said it was not after the money.
Militants are facing a cash crunch, especially following the period of demonetisation, where higher currency notes were withdrawn from the system, according to police.