3 cops, 2 others held for looting man of ` 1 crore
NAVI MUMBAI: The Vashi police arrested three policemen attached to Trombay police station and two others on Wednesday for their alleged involvement in a Rs1 crore hawala scam. The police have recovered Rs48 lakh from the accused and are searching for four others, whom they suspect have a role to play.
The three arrested cops include two police sub-inspectors Pankaj Khairnar, 32, a resident of Vashi’s Sector 28, Nileshkumar Sandanshiv, 28, a resident of Khadakpada in Kalyan and constable Janardan Raje, 47, a resident of Dombivli, while the other arrested accused are Balraj Swami alias Uday, 50, a Dombivli resident and Laxman Swami, 41, a Trombay resident, said the police. The police are looking out for Afsar alias Hanif, a cricket coach, and Altaf — both residents of Bhatkal in Karnataka — and Kamraj, Uday’s brother and Raju Koli a driver.
The incident came to light after a Mohammed Salim Kazia, 58, a resident of Bhatkal village, filed a complaint with the police on December 20 about him being looted.
While probing the case, the police learnt about Kazia regularly taking hawala money from Zaveri Bazaar in Mumbai to Karnataka, said Shahaji Umap, deputy commissioner of police (zone I). “Altaf, who is Kazia’s friend, knew about it. He also told his friend Afsar about the trade. Afsar knew Uday and told him about the huge sums of money that Kazia regularly carried. He solicited his help to loot Kazia,” added Umap.
According to Umap, “Uday introduced Afsar to his brothers Laxman and Kamraj and the three policemen at Trombay, whom they knew and together they hatched a plan to loot him and share the booty.”
“When Kazia came to Mumbai on December 18, Altaf informed Afsar, who then alerted his accomplices and followed Kazia to Mumbai. On December 19, Afsar, Uday and his brothers trailed him in a rented taxi to Bhendi Bazaar where he went to book his ticket. Kazia then boarded a bus to Mahim to get the money. When Kazia left Mahim around noon in a taxi, the three accused brothers followed him till Chembur, where he was to board a bus to Karnataka. Kazia then boarded the bus near Diamond Garden at Chembur. Kamraj and Raje boarded the bus as well,” said Umap.
Meanwhile, Khairnar and Sandanshiv were waiting in a Scorpio vehicle being driven by Koli ahead of the Vashi toll naka. As the bus reached the spot, Raje and Kamraj went over to the bus driver and asked him to stop the bus telling him that they are from the crime branch and that a passenger had to be interrogated, added Umap.
“Khairnar and Sandanshiv then got Kazia out of the bus and the three policemen and Koli took him in Scorpio. They moved around in the vehicle for around 2 hours and finally halted in Uran,” he said, adding, “There they covered the vehicle’s number plate with a sticker, snatched the bag containing Rs1 crore and threw him out of the vehicle before fleeing from the spot.”
“The complainant had given us some names that the accused had used and also informed that they were policemen. We then used technology and our informers to zero in on Khairnar who was held first. The rest were then caught on the basis of the information we got,” said Umap.
Senior police inspector Ajay Landge of Vashi police station said, “We are investigating if the accused were involved in similar crimes in the past.”