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HomekarnatakaFake dollar bills: Activist steps in as fear silences scrap dealer

Fake dollar bills: Activist steps in as fear silences scrap dealer

Bengaluru: A social worker filed a police complaint on Saturday afternoon after the employer of a ragpicker, who had found US dollars near a railway station, was allegedly abducted by armed men.

Saleman S K, 39, had found 23 bundles of the foreign currency, estimated to be around $3 million (about Rs 25 crore) and in $100 denominations, when he was scouring for waste near the Nagawara railway station on November 1.

The police later said that the US dollar bills were counterfeit and photocopies, as DH reported previously.

R Kaleemullah, a city-based activist and the national executive member of Swaraj India, filed the complaint at the Amruthahalli police station under the northeastern division on behalf of Touhidul Islam alias Bappa, 33, a scrap dealer from West Bengal. “As Bappa was scared and not forthcoming, I filed the complaint,” Kaleemullah told DH.

Amruthahalli police registered the case under IPC sections 363 (punishment for kidnapping), 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention). After Saleman found the US currency,along with a purported note on a United Nations (UN) letterhead, he remained quiet for a few days before he informed Bappa, who in turn called Kaleemullah. The activist approached Bengaluru police commissioner B Dayananda on November 5 regarding Saleman’s find.

Probe ordered

The commissioner directed the Hebbal police to conduct the probe, Kaleemullah had said. Hebbal police filed a case under IPC Section 489A (counterfeiting currency notes or bank notes) after receiving the report from the nodal HDFC bank that the currencies were counterfeit.

On November 7, late at night, five men allegedly arrived at Bappa’s shanty in Chiranjeevi Layout near the Bethel AG Church in Hebbal.

“The five men knew Bappa’s room. Two of them entered inside and began asking him about the US currency. When Bappa told them that it was handed over to the police, they did not believe him and took him away in an Innova, along with a red suitcase, a laptop and the digital video recorder (DVR), which had the footage from the CCTV camera outside Bappa’s room,” Kaleemullah told DH previously.

An eyewitness said that one of the men had a handgun holstered in his back. “When we went to check, one of them told us to move away,” Quddus, a ragpicker, told DH via a video message shared by Kaleemulla. “As he pushed us, I saw that he had the handgun.” Bappa said that he knew the men and they spoke among themselves in Kannada. “They talked to me in Hindi. They are from around here. I cannot tell their name openly,” Bappa said.

Before Bappa was dropped off near the Manyata Tech Park around 9.30 am, the suspects tortured him and threatened him, Kaleemullah had alleged.

(Published 11 November 2023, 20:56 IST)

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