Deccan Herald, Thursday, January 29, 2004


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Deccan Herald » Metro Life » Full Story

LAW AND OUTLAW

Newspaper reader to newsmaker via an ad

Sharp observation and just a little bit of altruism could make you a valuable source for the police



You don’t need instincts like Sherlock Holmes to become an investigator. In fact, you can turn out to be a good police informant providing tip-offs on current, past and anticipated criminal activities by simple observational skills.

If you are nonplussed about how observation can help in preventing crime, this piece on the pre-emptive strike by the police against two white collared criminals who were all set to escape with a Rs three-crore booty will give you a clear picture.

It all started on a wintry morning in December 2001 when informant Yoganand (name changed) was reading the newspaper. A small advertisement under the heading ‘Applications invited for Scholarship Scheme’ printed in a corner of the page caught his attention.

The advertisement read, “Applications have been invited from students, starting from 5th Standard to post-graduation including professional courses, for award of scholarships for the year 2002-03.

Monthly scholarships ranging from Rs 250 to R 5,000 along with gold medals and cash rewards will be given to 6,240 candidates, who will be selected after a competitive examination which will held at 57 centres across the country.

Applicants should obtain demand drafts of Rs 250 for registration and Rs 350 for taking up the examination and should sent it to Milestone Stride Educational Society, Somajiguda, Hyderabad.” Though the advertisement looked ordinary, Yoganand felt something fishy about it. He wondered how 6000 people could get scholarships at a time.

Immediately, he got in touch with his contact in the police department and briefed him about his suspicion. The action then shifted to Hyderabad when Cubbon Park Police Inspector Munirathnam Naidu landed at the office of Milestone Society.

Investigations revealed that the society was fictitious and was floated by two unemployed brothers from Jharkhand - Prashanth Kumar Sinha (28) and Amik Kumar Sinha (25). What baffled the police was the modus operandi of the brothers, for, they had planned to escape after collecting around Rs three crore through demand drafts.

Investigations revealed that the society was fictitious one and it was floated by two unemployed brothers from Jharkhand - Prashanth Kumar Sinha (28) and Amik Kumar Sinha (25).

The police found that the two had hired office space and furniture for just two months. This apart, the society did not have any infrastructure, funds, membership and educational background.

Moreover, they did not have adequate financial assets to support the Scholarship Scheme which they had started.

Realising that the Society was a fly-by-night company, the police seized thousands of applications which were sent from different parts of the country, postal orders worth Rs five lakh, computers and a two wheeler - all worth Rs 10 lakh - from them.

The investigations were monitored by the DCP Gopal B Hosur, the officer who won the President’s Police Medal for Gallantry this year.

If not for the informant’s observational skills, the country would have had to bear the burden of another scam. Perhaps you could take a leaf out of this episode to sharpen your observational skills, which may come in handy someday.

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