Sambalpur: Twenty-eight suspects have been arrested for alleged involvement in looting pipes worth around Rs 36 lakh that were meant for a water supply project in this district, police said Tuesday. About 25-30 armed bandits had entered the stockyard at Amlipani in Jujomura block, 34 km from Sambalpur city, on the intervening night of July 15 and 16, according to police.
The robbers threatened the security guards at gunpoint, tied them with ropes and locked them inside the storeroom. They looted 550 ductile iron pipes of 100 mm in diameter and 5.5 metres in length and fled away in two trucks and an SUV, police said.
The pipes were stored as part of a Rs 370-crore project in four blocks of Rairakhol constituency under a Rural Water Supply and Sanitation scheme.
A case was lodged at Jujumura and a special squad was formed to nab the bandits, who were identified to be from the Banki area of Cuttack district, police informed.
Following a tip-off about a similar plan, five teams of police nabbed the 26 dacoits at Hatribari in Jujomura on Monday with three trucks and a pickup van. After interrogation, a team went to Howrah in West Bengal and arrested two receivers of the pipes, they added.
Police have seized some stolen pipes and are trying to recover the other pieces that have already been sold. They have also seized Rs 56.59 lakh in cash.
The modus operandi of the dacoits, headed by one Raju Naik, was looting pipes and disposing them in Kolkata. A probe is on to arrest other members of the gang, police said.