The Special Investigative Team (SIT) of Navi Mumbai police has seized Rs 30.56 lakh worth of counterfeit Indian currency and Rs 83,005 worth of machinery used to print notes from an inter-state gang.
Seven persons have been arrested while the police is looking out for one more main culprit.
Making the announcement at a press conference in Vashi, Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Ramrao Wagh informed, "DCP Amar Jadhav had received information on December 14, that some persons were bringing fake currency to the APMC wholesale masala market in Vashi for sale. A trap was laid by the SIT lead by Jadhav and we arrested three persons along with the fake currency."
The police recovered Rs 15,53,000 worth of notes in denomination of Rs 500 from Dawood Abdul Rahim Khan of Dharavi, Anandraj Ramkrishna Mupannaar of Sivakasi in Tamil Nadu and Jaiprakash Oshi of Kerala. A case was registered at APMC police station and the police started interrogating the accused.
Said Wagh, "Following the interrogation of the accused, we learnt that the notes originated in Hyderabad where the gang printed them. We then turned our attention to their associates there and found that the gang had connections with Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. They had been in business for the last 3-4 months at least."
A SIT team investigating the PSI Babasaheb Adhao killing case happened to be in Hyderabad. They were alerted and asked to raid the premises there. The team there with the help of Hyderabad police arrested Punindra Rajendra Reddy, Narsinha Chapalla Pattana, Ashik Kanilkat of Kerala and Salim Shaikh of Tamil Nadu. A further Rs 15 lakh worth of counterfeit currency was recovered from the accused.
The police also seized a computer, printer, scanner and screen printing equipments used to print the notes.
Speaking on the working of the gang, DCP Amar Jadhav said, "Two factors that came to light during the investigation is that Hyderabad with a large contingent of IT literate youth is becoming a hotbed of IT professionals who are ready to put their knowledge for criminal activities. One of the suspects we are looking out for is a screen printing expert. And the arrested accused Salim Shaikh is a computer professional. He is an expertise in Photoshop which he used to scan and perfect the fake notes for printing. Also the fact that Sivakasi is a centre for production of crackers has also helped the printing industry there grow and has helped people like Salim and other suspects gain expert printing knowledge."
Police say the counterfeit notes printed are very similar to the real ones and would not be easily identifiable by a common man. Said Wagh, "Even I would find it difficult to tell. The series printed on the notes 9BB was the latest. The RBI experts will however tell you that the paper quality is different, it is thicker. Also if you hold the notes against fluorescent light, you can't see the fibre as you can in the original notes. The numbers too should glow in light, which doesn't happen. The security thread is not perfect and Gandhiji's water mark is also different from the original one. The embossed 500 number are also not visible when held at eye level."
Police say the men were scouting for buyers for the notes in Navi Mumbai and planned to sell them at 25 pre cent of their value. "Jadhav and his men are further investigating the case and looking out for more suspects, whom we plan to get soon," said the commissioner.
The entire operation included Senior Police Inspector Bharat Shelke, API Dhanaji Kshirsagar, PSI Ravindra Daundkar, Police Naik Kalandare, Police Constable Salunkhe, Gosavi, Nivle and Kengar.