With the arrest of nine persons, Agra police have succeeded in busting a major 'hawala' network in Agra. The epicenter of the racket has been traced to Ahmadabad, as four of those arrested have disclosed the names of their employers in the Gujarat capital.
Agra police are now trying to trace the king pin named by the accused.
Cash worth Rs. 20,07,000 along with currency counting machine was recovered from those arrested. A case has been registered under section 6/4 of Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes Banning Act - 1978 at Kotwali police station in Agra.
"Police got information about illegal 'hawala' racket in Chittikhana area of the main Rawatpada market here. There were reports that money was exchanging hands in an illegal manner and those who specialised in this operated in the murky lanes of this market in old Agra, known for trade of spices all over India," said senior superintendent of police (SSP) Agra, Subhash Chandra Dubey while addressing a press conference on Friday night.
"A team led by assistant superintendent of police (Loha Mandi circle) was constituted. Kotwali and crime branch cops were also roped in to assist in the operation. An office in Chittikhana was raided on Thursday night and nine people were arrested from the spot," said the SSP.
Besides cash and counting machine, note punching machine and nine mobiles were also seized from the spot. During interrogation, it came out that four out of the nine arrested were from Gujarat. "They were employees of Patel Mukesh Bhai, Narain Dass and Company at Ahmedabad and were paid for working in the Agra office for the past six months," said the SSP.
The office of this firm is said to be located at Sri Nidhi Complex, first floor, Javirabad, Ratanpol in Ahmedabad and has various branches in different cities. The arrested staff disclosed names of Giri Bhai Goswami, Ganpat Bhai Patel and Mahpat Bhai Darbari as their employers in Gujarat.
"Five of those arrested from Agra are employees of various business owners in Agra market. They were all involved in illegal transaction of cash, without any documentation or record as required by law," said the SSP who did not rule out spread of this network in many other cities. "We are investigating the Gujarat connection of 'hawala' trade," he added.
One of the accused in police custody revealed that they were only informed about phone numbers of 'parties' to be dealt with in Agra's spice market. "Each one of us used to limit ourselves to transaction of Rs. 25 lakh in a day as ordered by our employers," said the man, who also disclosed that they all were working on a monthly salary of Rs. 4000.
The network was well managed. Agents had printed visiting cards and were trusted with cash in lakhs by their 'parties' in Agra. These agents generated commission on the volume of transaction. Experts suggest that this mechanism is basically aimed at providing better mobility of cash while avoiding any payment of tax on transactions made. The 'parties' interested in making payment in other cities used to pay the amount here to these agents and provide number of those supposed to receive the amount in the other city and these agents communicated the receipt of cash and facilitate payment in the other city.
Sources revealed that the network in Agra had its reach in cities including Jaipur, Bengaluru, Goa, Bhopal, Nasik, Mathura, Firozabad, Kanpur, Varanasi and Lucknow besides cities in Gujarat.