Man killed after being tortured for days over bitcoins
The alleged killers, also from Kerala, took the man to a hospital on Wednesday night after he stopped responding to the torture.Updated: Aug 31, 2019 07:05 IST
A 24-year-old man from Kerala was tortured to death in Dehradun by 10 people who wanted to get their hands on the ₹485 crore that investors had plowed into bitcoin on two virtual currency exchanges he used to run in his home state, the police said on Friday.
The alleged killers, also from Kerala, took the man to a hospital on Wednesday night after he stopped responding to the torture. He was declared “brought dead” at the hospital. Police caught five of the men and said the remaining were on the run.
The victim has been identified as Abdul Shukoor, a resident of Malappuram district in Kerala, said Arun Mohan Joshi, senior superintendent of police (SSP), Dehradun. He had been engaged in bitcoin trading for the past two years and used to operate two trading exchanges named ‘bitjax.BTC’ and ‘BTC.bit.shukoor’, the officer said.
The 10 men accused of killing him have been identified as Ashiq, a close aide to Shukoor and the main suspect, Arshad, Sihab, Muneef, Yasin, Sufail Mikhtar, Aftab Mohammad, Faris Mamnoon, Arvind C and Ansif Ali. They are also residents of Malappuram, Joshi said.
He said that four of the 10 belonged to Shukoor’s core team in his trade of the virtual currency and mobilised many people to invest money in Bitcoin. The total investment amounted to about ₹485 crore.
The business was going well until a year ago when the value of Bitcoin started declining. Shukoor began to incur losses and investors, too, began to ask where their money was.
One of the alleged killers, Yasin, was studying in a college in Dehradun, where Shukoor and the nine others fled from Kerala on August 12 to escape growing pressure from investors.
Shukoor had told Ashiq that his Bitcoin trading account had been hacked, and that he would soon launch his own cryptocurrency. He claimed he would return the investors’ money from the profits he would make on the new virtual currency, SSP Joshi said. Ashiq thought Shukoor still had Bitcoins worth hundreds of crore and planned to acquire the password for his trading accounts to encash it, according to the police.
At Yasin’s rented accommodation in Dehradun, the men tied Shukoor to a chair and tortured him brutally from August 26 to August 28, superintendent of police, Dehra Dun city, Shweta Chaubey, said. “Despite the torture, they failed to get the password out. On August 28, when his condition worsened, they panicked that they would lose the hefty amount with his death. Five of them – who were later arrested – first took him to a city hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead’. They then took him to a private hospital which also declared him dead,” Chaubey added.
They fled the hospital premises, leaving Shukoor’s body in the car in the parking lot and took a bus to Delhi. “The police got the information about the death from the hospital authorities at midnight on Wednesday. After learning about Shukoor’s identity and Kerala address from a diary in the car, they informed the Kerala police,” Chaubey said. After questioning an auto-rickshaw driver, hospital staff and examining CCTV footage, all five men who had brought Shukoor to hospital were caught on Thursday. “The other five, including main accused Ashiq, are on the run,” Chaubey said.