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Were Pune blasts funded through a hawala racket?

September 17, 2012 14:56 IST

The police have been looking at a suspicious transaction of Rs 20 lakh which was traced between Delhi and Pune. The police say this money was facilitated by a jeweller in Pune, which later landed in the hands of two suspected IM operatives. Vicky Nanjappa reports

While the police believe that the August 1 Pune blasts were the work of the Indian Mujahideen, looking at the progress report of the investigation, it is clear that no real headway has been made as yet.

While the lookout for the foot soldiers and the masterminds have yielded no results so far, the police are now trying to find the money trail that could have helped carry out this attack.

The tailor who was picked up from the blast spot was not able to give any clear information to the police. The police, as well as a team of the National Investigating Agency visited various parts of Maharashtra and Karnataka to track the antecedents of this man.

Although the investigation against him is still open-ended, the police feel that he had just picked the bag out of curiosity.

The police are now looking at the suspicious transaction of Rs 20 lakh which has been tracked between Pune and Dubai. This money, which was facilitated by a jeweller in Pune landed in the hands of two operatives suspected to be from the IM.

Was this money used in the Pune blasts? Only Rs 10 lakh was allegedly used for the operation; the police suspect the remaining money is still with the perpetrators.

The two operatives whose names have been revealed by the jeweller are missing and a hunt is on for them. Though, the jeweller told the police that he did not know who he was dealing with. Police sources point out that this has been the case most of the time.

"There are many hawala operators who are not directly connected with such persons, so they end up making such transactions just as routine. And even though there is much awareness created about the hawala racket, people continue to do so since there is a lot of money in it," said a police source.

Currently, the hawala market in India runs up to the tune of over Rs 2,500 crore. Earlier, those dealing with fake currency, and drugs were roped in for such operations. However with the heat on hawala operators now being increased, terror groups looked for less unassuming persons -- real estate, fruit vendors, money lender -- and in this case, jewellers to carry out their transactions.

The biggest dealings in hawala have been found in New Delhi's Chandini Chowk area and Kerala. The job of the hawala transactor is to receive the money from a foreign land, convert the same into 'legal' money, and then deposit it into a bank.

Once that is done he gets in touch with the operative at whose behest the transaction has been done. After taking his cut of 10 per cent, he hands over that money to the operative.

Vicky Nanjappa