Clients demand damages from BRAC Bank
Wednesday, 09 January 2008

Staff Correspondent

Angry locker users and their relatives gathered in front of BRAC Bank's Dhanmondi branch Monday night, demanding compensations for the loss of valuables to an overnight heist.

Robbers swept clean 60 lockers of the bank Saturday night, but the incident which the clients alleged had been kept secret hit the media spotlight Monday. The robbers cut open the roof of the top floor of the bank, made an easy foray into the locker room, broke open 75 lockers and looted valuables from 60. correspondent Abu Noman Sajib saw several locker users cry Monday night by the side of Mirpur Road where the bank's Dhanmondi branch is located.

Rabed Khan, who lost valuables to the robbery, was furious and said: "It happened Saturday. As of today they haven't bothered to inform us. We got to know about it from TV news." The locker users demanded a written promise from bank officials to pay the compensations. Khan said the bank management had wilted under pressure from clients and promised to pay damages in 90 days if the lost valuables were not retrieved. The clients left the scene, minutes past Monday midnight.

All clients sit together Tuesday morning to decide on a press conference, he said.
The correspondent saw another locker user, Monowara Kuddus, rush into the bank crying.

The ornaments she lost date back to the British rule, she said. "I am a granddaughter of a jamindar. I would simply go mad if I lose them," she sobbed.

The value of the lost valuables was not immediately clear. According to terms and conditions for locker services, the bank will not be held "liable or responsible for any loss or damage to any articles, documents, securities or valuables, deposited in the locker as a result of theft, dacoity, fire or any other accident or pilferage". Locker services are extended to clients known as "licensees" having a minimum balance of Tk 25,000 in the base account. The bank keeps Tk 1,000 in security money which is refundable on return of locker keys. A user has to pay Tk 2,500 in annual rents for a small locker, Tk 3,500 for a medium locker and Tk 4,500 for a large locker.


Police said the robbers cut a hole on the floor of the room to enter the bank. The top floors of the building house a hotel, Nidmahal and room 103 of the hotel is directly atop the bank.

They have detained four workers of the hotel but have no major clue about the robbers. The bank concealed the incident from the clients until Monday. On Sunday morning, a subscriber went to use his locker only to find his valuables missing. He informed the bank about the incident.

Abidur Rahman Shikder, head of marketing and corporate affairs for BRAC Bank, told "We have no idea how much the locker users lost. We just rent the lockers out to users." Shikder said the robbers broke 75 of the132 lockers and that 60 lockers had goods.

Mohammadpur police chief Shibli Noman said they were interrogating the detainees. He, however, would not say anything about the progress of the investigation.

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