Ruling out the suspected ‘terror angle’ against the eight individuals detained earlier on Friday evening, the Mangaluru City police said the suspects were allegedly conmen who posed as investigators from the central government and were planning to dupe people on the pretext of carrying out an investigation.
On August 16, the local police, who were on high-alert as part of the Independence Day celebrations, noticed that five individuals, sitting in a car at Pumpwell in Mangaluru city, were acting suspiciously. “Acting on a tip-off, a police inspector approached the black car, which had heavily tinted glass and had labels such as 'Director, National Crime Investigation Bureau' and 'Government of India' on it. When we tried to ask some questions, the suspects tried to get away with the car but were waylaid,” Mangaluru City Police Commissioner PS Harsha said.
On being further questioned, the suspects, who were dressed in safari suits, told the officials that they were waiting for instructions from their bosses at a lodge in Kankanady. The accused later admitted that they were planning to trap a local businessman (unidentified) for financial extortion, in the garb of their 'fake' government credentials, police officials said.
Subsequently, a police team was sent to Sai Arya Lodge at Kankanady in the city and three more members of the gang were arrested.
The city police have also recovered a (.22) revolver from one of the accused, TK Bopanna; in addition a laptop, voice recorder, documents and two unregistered Mahindra TUV and XUV model car.
“In fact, Sam Peter (another accused) flashed fake ID card, visiting cards to our police officials and claimed to be the director of National Crime Investigation Bureau when he was confronted at Sai Arya (lodge) before his arrest,” Harsha said. The police added that they have also recovered 4.5 mm pistol and live bullets from Sam Peter’s possession.
Articles seized from the gang
The vehicle used by the gang
According to the police, the eight-member gang was planning to abduct a person by posing as NBCI sleuths and to extort money from him.
While 53-year-old Sam Peter, a resident of Kerala, is suspected to be the ring leader, he was aided by Madan (41), Chinnappa (38), Sunil Raju (35), Kodandarama (39), who hailed from Bengaluru; Abdul Lateef (59) and G Mohiudeen (70), residents of Mangaluru; and TK Bopanna (33) from Kodagu.
The case against the accused has been lodged at Kadri police station limits and the Mangaluru City police are checking with their counterpart police stations, districts and states if any earlier antecedents existed against those now in custody.
The eight have been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPS): 170 (personating a public servant), 171 (wearing garb or carrying token used by public servant with fraudulent intent), 419 (punishment for cheating by personation), 120B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 399 (making preparation to commit dacoity), 402 (assembling for purpose of committing dacoity) and 149 (guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object).
They have also been booked under sections 3 (deals with licence for acquisition and possession of firearms and ammunition) and 25 (punishment) of the Indian Arms Act, 1959; and section 7 of the State Emblem of India Act, 2005, which prohibits the improper use of emblem of India for professional and commercial purposes.
In the backdrop of the extension of anti-terror exercise observed across Karnataka since the Independence Day celebration, the city police said that the vigilance remained high on any suspicious movements when the accused's unusual behaviour led to the arrest.
Story by Story Infinity (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP.)