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Raid on former outlaw unearths Rs 15 cr in banned notes

DH News Service, Bengaluru, Apr 15 2017, 2:01 IST
V Nagaraj

V Nagaraj

The city police raided the house and office of former history sheeter V Nagaraj in Srirampuram and seized nearly Rs 15 crore in demonetised currency on Friday.

The police also recovered lethal weapons (swords and machetes) from his house.

The police initially thought the haul must be around Rs 30 crore, but after counting put the value at Rs 14.80 crore. The stash was hidden in a cot and home theatre furniture on the third floor of his office situated close to his house. However, Nagaraj gave the police the slip and escaped from the terrace.

Police suspect Nagaraj to be part of a larger currency exchange racket.

Investigations revealed that Nagaraj had contacts in Chennai, who helped him convert demonetised currency. The raids were prompted by a complaint lodged by a person identifying himself as N Umesh, at Hennur police station on April 7.

Umesh and 13 others were arrested, including Praveen Kumar, son-in-law of MLC Veeranna Mathikatti, by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) police in connection with a money exchange racket, on April 2.

Umesh alleged in his complaint that Nagaraj abducted him and robbed him of Rs 50 lakh in demonetised notes, along with gold jewellery.

The suspect had asked Umesh to meet him with the money for striking a real estate deal that Umesh was interested in. Tense moments marked the early morning raids behind Gandhi School in Srirampuram.

A posse of policemen surrounded the house and office of Nagaraj around 5 am. Relatives and supporters of the suspect objected to the raids.

Even after being shown a search warrant, Nagaraj’s wife, Lakshmi Nagaraj (an ex-corporator), obstructed, forcing the police to take her into custody. She also accused the police of planting cash in her husband's office. Nagaraj had stashed money collected from realtors, who wanted to convert their demonetised high value notes to legal tender, for a 30% commission. According to police, most of the realtors who approached Nagaraj for conversion were either threatened, robbed or extorted as he knew they would not lodge a police complaint.

East Division police along with CCB sleuths had to break open several locked rooms and secret lockers before stumbling on a cot and a home theatre at his office, bearing the name board Sneha Seva Samithi. Huge stash of demonetised money was stored in the cot and home theatre furniture. The police also roped in revenue officials during the ‘mahazar’.

Nagaraj's house was locked from the outside as well as inside, which made police suspect someone was inside the house. Sleuths in plainclothes kept a vigil for two days to track Nagaraj’s movements but in vain. Hence, they obtained a search warrant on Thursday and conducted the surprise raids.
Special team to nab Nagaraj
Apart from Rs 14.80 crore in demonetised currency, the police also seized two swords, four sickles and two baseball bats, besides documents pertaining to various properties. A special team has been formed to nab Nagaraj, who is suspected to be hiding in his farmhouse in Nelamangala.

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