Posing as passengers, a gang used to rob valuables from people travelling in a bus on the Dhaka-Aricha highway.
The gang members would fill most of the seats in the moving bus at night so that passengers boarding the vehicle at different bus stops don't feel insecure.
In an opportune moment, they would snatch valuables from the victims. The bus driver and his helper are also part of the gang.
Such a tactic of robbery came to light late on Thursday night after police rounded up 28 suspected robbers near the Nabinagar bus stop on Dhaka-Aricha highway in Savar. They were arrested after a gunfight between the criminals and police.
Law enforcers, however, couldn't confirm how long the gang had been involved in robbery.
Khorshed Alam, additional superintendent (Savar circle) of police, yesterday said they set up a check post at Nabinagar bus stop around 11:00pm on Thursday on information that robbery was being carried out in a bus.
Seeing a bus speeding towards Dhaka, they signaled the driver to pull over. But the driver disregarded the signal and continued on his way, claimed the ASP.
All of a sudden, the robbers opened fire at policemen from inside the bus. It prompted police to fire retaliatory shots at them, he added.
Sensing danger, the driver pulled over some 20 yards away.
Law enforcer then got on the vehicle and arrested the 28. They rescued three passengers with their hands tied behind their back and mouths gagged with pieces of cloths, said Khorshed.
Police also claimed to have seized a pistol, five bullets, a magazine, a few sharp weapons, 30 cell phones and around Tk 10,000 from the robbers' possession.
During primary interrogation, the arrestees admitted that they used to rob passengers in the guise of passengers, the ASP said.
According to police, the ringleader of the gang was identified as Bashir, one of the arrestees.
Wishing anonymity, a police official of Ashulia Police Station said the gang used to carry out robbery on the Dhaka-Aricha and the Dhaka-Tangail highways. In the daytime, they used the 52-seater bus for carrying passengers on the Dhaka-Manikganj route.
Khorshed said four policemen, including Abdul Awal, officer-in-charge of the police station, were hurt in the incident. They were given primary treatment at a local hospital.
Police seized the bus and took it to Ashulia Police Station.
Among the rescued passengers is Sanaullah, a garment worker.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, he said he boarded the bus from Dhamrai around 10:30pm to travel to Savar.
Within a few minutes, some men tied his hands behind his back and gagged his mouth with pieces of cloths after brandishing sharp weapons.
Sanaullah said the robbers demanded money from him. At one stage, they snatched his cell phone and money.
OC Awal said two cases were filed against the 28 arrestees with Ashulia Police Station yesterday for carrying out robbery and possessing illegal firearms.
Meanwhile, a Dhaka court yesterday granted four-day remand for each of the 27 arrestees in the two cases. However, Bashir was placed on five-day remand in the firearms case and four-day remand in the other case.
ASP Khorshed said about eight to 10 of the arrestees, including Bashir, were accused in several criminal cases filed with different police stations across the country.