A young engineer, whose innovation got appreciation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year, landed in police net after he and his accomplices were caught with fake Rs. 2,000 notes in Mohali town of Punjab, police said on Friday.
The Punjab Police in Mohali, adjoining Chandigarh, have recovered fake currency worth Rs. 42 lakh in Rs 2,000 denomination and arrested Abhinav Verma, his cousin Vishakha Verma, and Ludhiana-based property dealer Suman Nagpal.
The trio, along with two others, were duping people by exchanging the demonetised Rs. 500 and Rs. 1,000 notes for the fake Rs. 2,000 notes. They were charging 30% commission for the exchange.
Mohali Superintendent of Police (City) Parminder Singh said the fake currency was recovered on Wednesday from a brand new luxury Audi SUV which the trio were using.
The vehicle even had a red beacon, which is allowed only for VVIPs, on it.
The police have been conducting raids to arrest two more members of the gang who slipped away.
"The currency given by the gang (to their customers) even after charging commission was fake," Singh said.
"Abhinav is an engineering graduate who is into manufacturing sensors to be installed in the sticks for visually handicapped. His office is in Chandigarh and they used to print the fake currency of Rs 2,000 denomination at his office only," the official said.
While Abhinav, 21, and Vishakha, 23, who is pursuing MBA, used to print the fake currency, the property dealer used to find clients who wanted to get their unaccounted money converted to new currency.
"The notes seized from them had the same serial number," an investigating official said.
Abhinav had last year claimed to have created 'Live Braille', a wearable technology innovation that helped blind people to walk around without the aid of a walking stick.
The device used sensors to guide blind people and was hailed as a success. It even got a mention from Modi in December last year at the Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru.
The device was commercially launched this year, touted as an innovation under the 'Make in India' programme, and sold in India and over 15 countries.
Abhinav, who wanted to "change the lives of 50 million blind people in India" with the device, had termed it as a "freedom device". He even established a fund-raising initiative -- Milaap -- for this campaign.
The 'Milaap' website prominently mentions Abhinav's innovation as "Recognised by the honourable PM Narendra Modi and former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam. This device was amongst the Top-3 Hardware Technologies in India and was nominated amongst the Top-15 hardware startups at the Asia Hardware Battle, organised by TechCrunch and TechNode in March 2016".