| Sharma being taken to Pune after his arrest in Mumbai on Monday. (PTI)
Mumbai, Dec. 2: Police are at pains to explain their ignorance about the 200-odd cartons of currency notes and stamps found in the house of Abhay Bansal, alias Prasoon Agarwal, an accused in the fake stamp paper racket, in Nashik yesterday. A senior police officer said the consignment could have been the result of a “long lasting hobby”.
Crisp currency notes and stamps from at least 13 countries were found packed in the Cidco house of Bansal. Earlier, the police had recovered fake stamps worth Rs 72 lakh from another house — close to this one — belonging to Bansal.
The amount is so large that a police team is still opening the cartons almost 24 hours after they confiscated it.
The befuddled Nashik and Mumbai police have announced that the stamps were out of circulation for long and were “completely useless now”. However, Mumbai police chief P.S. Pasricha said links with Abdul Karim Telgi, the alleged mastermind behind the Rs 39,000-crore fake stamp paper scam, cannot be denied. Bansal was arrested last week for his role in the scam.
To add to their embarrassment, the police have found 426 small boxes containing old, used stamps and coins from a house in Panvel (Navi Mumbai), reportedly belonging to Bansal.
“The stamps were cancelled and had no market value,” Nashik police commissioner P.T. Lohar said, adding that the 90 boxes containing the stamps have been sealed. Some of them belonged to the pre-Partition era, he said.
But the question mark over the currency notes, from countries like Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Netherlands, India and Brazil, remained. The police department has requested the Reserve Bank of India to check the authenticity of the notes. The Indian currencies were in small denominations.
Officials of the Nashik-based India Security Press — some of whom are being investigated for helping Telgi — will be examining the currencies. Two officers were arrested last week for aiding Telgi with their expertise. The proximity of the press and Bansal’s house has raised more uncomfortable questions. The government has ordered a high-level inquiry into the haul.