Meghalaya woman arrested after plan to rob bank goes awry

She hid in bank with a day’s provisions, unaware the branch would be closed over weekend.

Isabella Marboh had allegedly wanted to rob a bank in Meghalaya capital Shillong but her failure to consult a calendar did her in.

The police arrested Marboh on June 29 for trying to rob the Meghalaya Rural Bank’s Bishnupur branch in Shillong. She is expected to be produced before a court after spending some time in a quarantine centre, where she was sent to.

An inspector at Shillong’s Laban police station said the 40-year-old Marboh, a resident of the city’s New Kench’s Trace area, went missing on June 25. She was found disoriented and in a state of shock when the bank branch reopened on June 28 after a two-day break for the weekend.

The bank employees found out she had visited the branch on June 25 to deposit some cash and managed to hide inside. The bank was closed at 2 p.m. that day but it was locked after the branch manager left around 3.45 p.m.

They also discovered she had planned to stay overnight with some puffed rice and packets of ORS (oral rehydration solutions) to sustain her. Among other items she carried were a hammer and a handsaw.

“We found these tools when we called a carpenter to open the gates of the strongroom,” a bank official said, adding that the woman was hoping to slip out the next morning.

“She was apparently unaware that the bank would be closed for more days than she had thought. What was intriguing was that she did not call for help during the three nights she spent locked inside, and there are houses around the bank within earshot,” the official said.

Despite experiencing frequent rainfall, Shillong suffers from scarcity of potable water. The branch did not have enough water to sustain her for more than a day.

The police said they have registered a case against her for attempted heist. “She had removed some of the CCTV cameras and managed to lay her hands on some cash,” a police officer handling the case said.

Some organisations have called for sensitive handling of her case.

“We have heard she used to run a fast-food joint and was respected. Two years of lockdown have pushed many women in Meghalaya, trapped in loans, to desperation. The government has to look into her problems, provide counselling and address it,” Agnes Kharshiing of Civil Society Women Organisation told The Hindu on June 30.

Members of Marboh’s family said they had no knowledge about her “misadventure”.

“We don’t stand by her act,” a member of her family said.

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