Calcutta, July 11: Sentries stand guard to a 35-year-old thickset man in Muchipara police lock-up. He is Shukul Sau, the mastermind of a fake currency racket active in the city.
At Lakshmisarai, near Begusarai in Bihar, he is the revered Raja Sahib, who lives in a palace built by blasting away a part of a hill and rides in luxury cars without number plates. His palace sits between hills and behind iron gates manned by private guards. Around the marble marvel lie acres of green lawns guarded by dogs.
Arresting this man was the brief of a 15-member team led by Muchipara police station in-charge Naseem Ali, which left for Lakshmisarai on Friday.
After a five-hour train journey and a walk for over an hour through potholed roads and across muddy fields, the police stood “stunned” at the sight of the “marble palace” close to a river.
“A section of officers surrounded the house while others stormed in. Sensing trouble, Sau tried to flee through the backdoor. But we netted him,” said Ali.
Sau’s name emerged during the questioning of three youths arrested from Baithakhana market on June 30. Mohammad Johny, Mohammad Saher and Mohammad Rajesh Hussain were caught with 18 fake Rs 500 notes.
“The trio confessed they had collected the fake notes through an agent from ‘Guptaji’,” said Ali. “We came to know later that Guptaji was Sau’s code name. He used to give fake notes of Rs 3 lakh for Rs 1 lakh.”
Bihar police were not informed about the raid because of apprehensions that Sau might be tipped off. After tracing him to Lakshmisarai, police contacted Sau pretending to be clients and told him they would meet him with Rs 2 lakh. “Rs 2 lakh was recovered from the house. Several white papers matching the size of Rs 500 notes were also found. It seems he has a fake-note manufacturing unit,” said the Muchipara officer-in-charge.
He added that Sau would be worth several lakhs more than the money the police recovered. He might also be operating from other hideouts, said Ali.
However, getting hold of Sau was not the end of the operation. As local people came to know that their Raja Sahib had been handcuffed, they rushed to the palace. “From the roof-top, we saw thousands rushing towards the house, apparently to snatch him. The mob even broke open a door. We were set to open fire when Bihar police commandos arrived,” recounted Ali.
Deputy commissioner Rajeev Kumar, whom Ali had contacted, got in touch with the Lakshmisarai police chief in the nick of time and rushed the force.
During the raid, the police recovered a long-range rifle and several photographs showing Sau with political leaders active in Bihar as well national politics.