The police detained two men with ₹15.40 lakh in new and existing banknotes in Maoist-affected Balaghat district on Tuesday.
The two, identified as grocery trader Amit Saware and finance company collection agent Abhishek Saraff, were nabbed from Balaghat town’s Jagpur Ghat area following a specific tip-off. Primary grilling has revealed that they were converting demonetised ₹500 and ₹1000 banknotes up to ₹2 crores into new and existing currency by charging a 15% commission, Balaghat SP Amit Sanghi told Hindustan Times.
“The two were detained with a scooter bearing no registration number. Checking the vehicle led to ₹15.40 lakh, of which ₹14.50 lakh was in ₹2000 notes and the remaining was in ₹100 notes. The cash and the two-wheeler have been seized,” said Sanghi.
“We’ve informed the income tax department about the detention and seizure. A team of I-T sleuths will question them,” he said.
While the police and I-T sleuths will try and extract from the two the source of such a large amount of new currency, early investigations suggest that Saware could be using multiple current accounts in banks to extract money. A collusion of banks in rendering him the major bulk of the new currency cannot be ruled out, sources said.
With Saraff being a collection agent of a finance company, the police are zeroing in on the possibility of him helping people replacing currency by showing demonetised banknotes as collection from small investors.
The disclosure assumes significance as there have been intelligence inputs about three groups of left wing extremists —Malanjkhand Dalam, Tanda Dalam and Darre Khasa Dalam — trying to get demonetised banknotes replaced with new currency through middlemen and villagers.