Pune: Fake currency with a face value of more than Rs55 crore has been seized from a bungalow in Pune, and senior police officials believe the figure could rise as the counterfeit notes were still being counted on Thursday.
Six men arrested in connection with the seizure, including army personnel, are being interrogated and will be produced in court by Thursday afternoon.
The money was found in a bungalow at Sanjay Park in Viman Nagar during a joint operation by Pune Police and Military Intelligence.
The arrested men were identified as Lance Naik Shaikh Alim Gulab Khan, a member of the Indian Army bank at Bombay Sappers, Sunil Badrinarayan Sarda, from Kondhwa area of Pune, Ritesh Ratnakar from Kamothe in Navi Mumbai, and Tufail Ahmed Mohammad Ishaq Khan, Abdul Gani Rehmtullah Khan and his son Abdul Rehman Abdul Gani Khan of Meera Road in Mumbai.
“The lance naik rented the bunglow for Rs23,000 eight months ago. He was the one who was involved in procuring the money. Prima facie, the owner of the place has no involvement in this,” said additional commissioner of police (crime) Ashok Morale.
Asked whether genuine Rs1,000 notes were among the seized currency, Morale said this money was simply for show. The Rs1,000 notes were demonetised by the Centre in 2016.
“This is an old racket. They hunt for customers and try to lure them into buying the currency they have. Our informant had an offer from them. They asked for Indian currency and offered American dollars. So police officers posed as customers and approached them,” said senior police inspector Rajendra Mohite of the anti-narcotics cell.
A fake office was set up by police in White House building near SP College, where a member of the gang came and checked the cash. While two officers posed as clients, a woman constable posed as a receptionist in the office.
“We took help of a bank and kept Rs25 lakh in cash ready. They checked some of the notes and only then started speaking,” said Mohite.
The accused had forbidden the two officers from using their mobile phones, according to police. The bungalow had four dogs for security, according to police.
The police officers involved in the raid used software that allowed them to track each other without touching their phones.
The accused first took them to Koregaon Park and then to the bungalow in Sanjay Park, where police teams followed and conducted a raid.