New Delhi, Nov. 15: When Delhi police claimed to have cracked the mother of all swindles, they hadn’t reckoned they would be left holding the baby.
Police detectives have now turned babysitters, desperately trying to figure out how to pacify an eight-month-old girl whose constant crying has frustrated their efforts to interrogate her fraud-accused mother.
Raksha J. Urs, 30, and husband Ulhas Prabhakar Khaire, 33, were picked up from Ratnagiri in Maharashtra on Sunday for allegedly cheating more than two lakh people out of nearly Rs 500 crore.
Officers say the toddler Gauri, confined with her parents in a 10x10ft lock-up, starts crying each time the interrogators approach Raksha.
“She cries loudly whenever she sees strangers; and she cries if we take Raksha to another room. So far, we have not been able to question the mother,” a senior officer said.
“The interrogators have tried pacifying her by rocking her in their arms or by offering milk, but nothing has worked. She is quiet only when she is with her mother.”
On Diwali Day, constables tried to entertain the baby with some squeaky toys and a doll. It didn’t help.
“We have now realised that babysitting is a real tough job. We were very happy to arrest the fraudster parents but never expected this problem,” another officer said.
The police said they had questioned Ulhas over the past two days but needed to interrogate Raksha too.
The couple, who had been living in a plush rented apartment in Ratnagiri, have three children. “The two elder children, aged seven and five years, have been handed over to Ulhas’s relatives (from Nagpur),” the officer said.
But Gauri was too young to be separated from her mother.
An officer said that after the couple were brought to Delhi, the baby fell sick and had a stomach upset. “At the moment, we are more concerned about her health than in questioning her mother. We shall request the court to extend the couple’s remand (which ends on November 18) for questioning.”
Gauri is being breastfed by Raksha but baby food too has been arranged, the officer said. “Two women constables have been posted to ensure she gets her baby food and milk on time. We have bought woollens for her considering the Delhi cold.”
Police sources said the accused couple had hired a babysitter at home in Ratnagiri. “Maybe the baby is finding the 10x10ft lock-up a bit weird,” an officer said.
A paediatrician who was requested by the police to examine the baby said she was in fine health and attributed her crying to her new surroundings and encounters with so many strangers.
Officers said Ulhas and Raksha had amassed huge assets through fraud across the country, and kept changing their looks, identities and cities frequently.
They allegedly have 94 accounts in 20 banks under 13 names; eight flats in Delhi, three more in Bhiwadi, Alwar and Moradabad and a villa in Goa; and 12 vehicles of which five, including a Merc, have been seized.
Ulhas is Class XI pass and Raksha is a photojournalism graduate. They had opened a company, Stock Guru, in Delhi in 2010 and got 205,062 people to invest between Rs 10,000 and Rs 60 lakh before allegedly vanishing with the entire sum of Rs 493 crore the following year.
Police sources said the couple had organised promotional events in Macau, Malaysia, Mauritius and several other countries and taken some “premium” investors there to win prospective clients’ confidence. They hired agents across the country to mobilise funds, promising 20 per cent monthly returns.
An officer said the police were verifying the couple’s claim that two Bollywood celebrities --- whom the duo have named --- attended their promotional events.
“There are people from Bengal among those duped,” the officer said. “Since the arrest, we have been receiving calls from across the country from their victims.”
Joint commissioner Sandeep Goel said a police team would take the couple to Ratnagiri in a day or two for further investigation. He didn’t say how the cops plan to keep the baby quiet during the trip.