Extortion bid: Karnataka cops lose face, get notice to report to Kerala police station on 16 August

Four officers of Karnataka Police were apprehended by the Kerala Police on charges of extortion. They are accused of accepting Rs 4 lakh from two cryptocurrency traders based in Kochi in exchange for releasing them in an online cheating case.

ByGeorge Michael

Published Aug 04, 2023 | 10:05 AMUpdatedAug 04, 2023 | 10:05 AM

Representative Image (creative commons)

It was a typical case of the fence eating the crop. A Karnataka police team ended up in the custody of their Kerala counterparts after they tried to extort money from two Kochi youths, picked up in a cryptocurrency fraud case.

The Karnataka police officers were later let off after being issued a notice, asking them to appear before the Kalamassery police in Kochi on 16 August.

The Kalamassery police seized ₹3.95 lakh from the possession of the Karnataka officers attached to the Whitefield Cyber, Economic offences, and Narcotics (CEN) police station and their vehicle. The cash and the vehicle would be produced before a court.

The Karnataka police team was in Kerala as part of a probe into a cryptocurrency case, in which a Bengaluru-based man, Chandaka Srikanth, had lost ₹26 lakh. On Tuesday, 1 August, the team picked up one Naushad from Vengara in Kerala’s Malappuram district.

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The bargain

Later, they picked up Kumbalagi residents Akhil Antony and Joseph Nikhil, after flagging down their vehicle on the Thoppumpady bridge in Kochi around 4 pm. When told that they would be taken to Karnataka, the men insisted the police from the neighbouring state inform the local police station.

The Karnataka police informed the Palluruthy police station before heading for Karnataka. En route, they stopped in Thrissur for food, and the police, through Naushad, allegedly demanded ₹25 lakh to spare them from the case.

On further bargaining, they reportedly brought the demand down to ₹10 lakh and promised immediate release if ₹5 lakh was paid. Nikhil’s father arranged ₹3 lakh, while Akhil managed to raise close to ₹1 lakh. The cash was handed over to the cops who had by then checked into a Thrissur hotel.

Meanwhile, a complaint was lodged with the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in Kochi, saying the two youths had gone missing. Based on his instruction, the Karnataka police team was told to collect the remaining amount in Kochi. The complaint was made through Advocate Suchithra MS.

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No arrest

The Kalamassery police, led by SHO Vibin Das, intercepted their vehicle while they were returning to Kochi, and detained the officers around 10.30 pm on Wednesday. The officers could not provide a plausible explanation for the cash found in the vehicle.

DCP S Sasidharan said the Karnataka cops were then taken to the Kalamassery police station.

“One of the accused is a police inspector. They have been identified as Whitefield CEN  police inspector Shivaprakash, head constables Vijayakumar and Shivanna, and constable Sandesh,” Kalamassery SHO Das said.

After being informed of the incident, Whitefield Sub-Divisional Assistant Commissioner of Police M Babu and a team reached Kochi and discussed the case with Sasidharan. The detained officers were later handed over to the Karnataka police.

The officers were booked under IPC sections 342, 384, 385, and 34, pertaining to wrongful confinement, extortion, inducing fear of injury for extortion, and acts done by several persons with a common intention, Das said.

Meanwhile, in Bengaluru, Whitefield DCP clarified that the officers were not arrested.

“The inspector and his staff have been released by issuing a notice after inquiry and have not been arrested,” DCP S Girish told South First.

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