An Indian army official has been arrested on Sunday in Andhra Pradesh's Vizianagaram for allegedly extorting money from a gold merchant by masquerading as Maoist commander. The district police were alerted by Indukuri China Babu, the gold merchant, who allegedly got a call from the accused – Chandanapalli Rajeswar Rao – demanding Rs 5 crore.
The accused is a 27-year-old native of Bantunivalasa in Parvatipuram mandal in Vizianagaram. Police officials said that the accused was inspired by a movie about a gangster on an OTT platform. He allegedly demanded Rs 5 crore over an extortion call on March 6. This happened after the complainant’s house windows panes were broken, allegedly by the accused, on March 5. While Babu initially thought someone had pelted stones at the windows, it was later revealed that the accused had done so by firing a country made pistol at Babu’s house.
When Babu received the alleged extortion call the next day, Rajeswar, who was on the other end, allegedly claimed that he is Maoist commander for Jharkhand, Andhra and Odisha states and demanded that Babu pay the amount or he will be killed. District SP Rajakumari said, "He demanded Rs 5 crore claiming that he is a Maoist commander and gave death threats if the complainant failed to comply."
A case under sections 384 (punishment for extortion), 506 (criminal intimidation) and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code was registered on March 6. Special teams were formed to nab the accused, following the complaint from the victim.
According to the police, Rajeswar is an employee with the Indian Army. He was on leave for the last few days; and recent losses in land deals might have motivated him to earn easy money. According to SP, the accused called the victim twice later to threaten him. The gold merchant allegedly told the accused that he could not give Rs 5 crore, and bargained to give Rs 1.5 crore.
The SP said, "The accused asked the complainant to come and give him the money near Vikramapuram area. The police, who were informed about this, reached the scene with the victim and arrested the accused on Sunday."
According to the police, the accused used a country made weapon, which he brought from another state, to open fire at the gold merchant house. The police seized one country made pistol and four live bullets, phones, and a two-wheeler from the accused.