A 30-year-old man, suspected to have masterminded the series of ATM robberies in Tiruvannamalai on February 12, was arrested at gunpoint at his hideout in a dilapidated building along the Rajasthan-Haryana border on Thursday. A sum of ₹15 lakh in cash was recovered from him.
The police said J. Asif Javed, a native of Nuh taluk in Mewat district of Haryana, was the ninth suspect arrested in the case by a special team of the Tamil Nadu police. His role was planning and execution of the entire heist with a six-member gang at a hideout at KGF in Karnataka. Along with other gang members, he was said to have conducted rehearsals before robbing the ATMs in the temple town. “He was the mastermind of the robbery as he planned every detail. In fact, he was the one who knew the exact location of the robbed cash. Further investigation is on,” K. Karthikeyan, SP (Tiruvannamalai), told The Hindu.
Currently, ₹20 lakh in cash, three cars and a container lorry have been seized from the nine arrested persons. The first breakthrough came on February 17 when two key suspects in the core gang that was behind the robbery — Mohammed Arif, 35, and his friend and accomplice, Azad, 37 — were arrested in Nuh district of Haryana. On February 20, ‘Gujarat’ P. Basha, 43, and his associate, P. Afsar Hussian, 26, were arrested from their hideout in KGF (Kolar) in Karnataka. A total of ₹79.79 lakh was stolen from four ATMs in Tiruvannamalai.
Initial inquiry revealed that the gang stayed in a hotel at KGF where they planned the entire heist. From the hotel, the gang visited Tiruvannamalai and other neighbouring areas before they executed the heist. The gang had cut open the ATMs with a gas-welding machine. After the robbery, the suspects stayed in the hideout at KGF for a few days before boarding a flight from Bengaluru.