A local court in Pakala town in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh sent former airhostess-turned-model Sangeeta Chatterjee to 14 days judicial custody on Wednesday following her arrest in Kolkata on Tuesday for her alleged involvement in a red sanders smuggling case.
According to Andhra Pradesh police sources, Sangeeta (27) is wanted in at least in four cases lodged in the last three years. The police charged her with spreading smuggling network in six states in India and other countries including China and Japan.
Chittoor deputy superintendent of police S A Razak said Sangeeta was wanted in several cases of red sanders smuggling, besides illegal arms dealing. “The case is under investigation and her arrest will throw more light on it,” he said.
Sangeeta is a close associate of notorious red sanders smuggler Markondas Lakshmanan (31), who hails from Chennai but settled in Kolkata five years ago. Two years ago, Lakshmanan developed intimacy with Sangeeta and both started living together.
She had obtained interim bail from Alipore court in Kolkata in early May when the Chittoor police raided her residence there, seizing her bank lockers and accounts which showed suspicious transactions with overseas agencies worth over several crores of rupees.
However, the Kolkata court directed Sangeeta to appear before the Chittoor court on May 18. But Sangeeta obtained extension of the interim bail on health grounds. Despite six legal summons, she did not appear before the Chittoor court. In December, the court issued a non-bail-able warrant against her. The Chittoor police deputed special teams about 28 times to Kolkata and Nagaland to hunt for her, but she could not be traced.
Police said Lakshmanan, who started his career as a mechanic, entered into the red sanders smuggling in 2012 and amassed wealth worth hundreds of crores of rupees in Chennai, Kolkata and elsewhere in the country. He was arrested by the Chittoor police in 2013 in connection with red sanders smuggling and was even sent to Kadapa jail under the PD Act.
Later, while on bail, he came in contact with Sangeeta who had started modelling after quitting as an airhostess. Sangeeta had reportedly married a pilot but separated later.
In February 2016, the police once again arrested Lakshmanan. During interrogation, he reportedly confessed to the alleged role of Sangeeta in the smuggling activity. This information eventually led to the Kolkata operation.