Cop, teacher among four held for banned Turkish note exchange racket

Police seize 78 Liras of notional value Rs 71 cr from gang

The Bengaluru police on Tuesday arrested a head constable attached to the Kote police station in Ch­i­tradurga and his three associates for trying to excha­nge demonetised Turkish currency Lira, of notional value Rs 71 crore for Rs 27 lakh, with two city-based businessmen.

The police seized 78 notes of 5 lakh denomination Liras, a loaded service pistol and an Alto car from the suspects.

The head constable identified as Nagaraju has been booked for attempt to murder and under sections of the Indian Arms Act for threatening a policeman by pointing the pistol to his head, the police said.

The others arrested are Shivaraju (50), a primary school te­acher from Chitradurga, Murali (40), a film producer from Ma­thikere in Bengaluru and Aravind Prasad (40), a realtor from Davangere. The police are on the lookout for one of the suspects Channa Reddy, also from Chitradurga, who managed to escape.

Chellaswamial N (33), a sales executive, approached the Marthahalli police on Tuesday and alerted them about a few persons from Chitradurga contacting his friend and business partner Shakir frequently over phone and telling him that they have high-value redeemable Turkish Liras worth Rs 100 cr­ore. They told Shakir that they wanted to dispose them. They told Shakir that each note is of 5 lakh Liras (value of 1 Lira is Rs 18.27) and worth Rs. 91.4 lakh and they can become rich overnight by exchanging them in the international market.

Chellaswamial and Shakir expressed interest in the deal and asked them to come down to Bengaluru. The duo suspected something amiss and kept the police in loop. On Tuesday afternoon, Nagaraju, Reddy and their accomplices arrived from Chitradurga and met Chellaswamil and Shakir near Marthahalli bridge. Nagaraju showed a single currency of 5 lakh Liras to the duo and explained its value in the international market, comparing it with USD. They told the duo that they had 78 such Liars worth Rs 71 crore which they were ready to exchange for a mere Rs 27 lakh.

Shakir and Challaswaial said they were ready for the deal and asked the five to meet them at the parking lot of the Innovative Multiplex on Marthahalli Ring Road at 8.30 pm. The duo, who informed the police, was waiting at the parking lot of the theatre. Around 8.45 pm, the five men arrived in an Alto car and the police surrounded them after Chellaswamial and Shakir identified them.

Arrest drama

Nagaraju immediately pulled out a loaded pistol and pointed it at head constable Thimmapparaju’s head. Meanwhile, the other policemen pounced on him, snatched the weapon and pinned him down. In the melee, Reddy managed to escaped. Nagaraju and others were apprehended by the police.

Later, the police found that Nagaraju was a head constable in Chitradurga. He had earlier served in Internal Security Division (ISD) and had a service pistol issued in his name. Even after he was transferred to the Kote police station from ISD, Nagaraju had not returned his pistol and kept it with him apparently for illegal use, the police suspect.

Interrogation of Nagaraju revealed the man behind the foreign currency exchange racket was Reddy, who was arrested in 2016 in a similar case. The police learnt that Nagaraju had befriended Reddy and helped him obtain bail, after which the two continued with foreign currency exchange business.

The police said the gang convinced gullible businessmen to buy the Liras telling them that the currency was demonetised on December 30, 2015 and the high-value currency can be exchanged in Turkey till December 30, 2019.

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