The Pune city police have arrested three persons, including an Army jawan posted in Jammu and Kasmir, in connection with the illegal brown sugar trade with alleged links in Pakistan.
Acting on a tip-off received by Havaldar Pandit Tapkir of Bhosari police station, a team of Senior Inspector Chandrakant Bhosale and Inspector Satyawan Patil, laid a trap and intercepted a car near MIDC junction in Bhosari around 8.15 pm on Wednesday.
The police arrested the three persons travelling in the car with 326.5 gram of brown sugar estimated to be worth Rs 7.63 lakh. The three are Sandeep Raghunath Kolhe (26) of Raipur in Chandwad taluka of Nashik, Saurabh Sanjay Walunj (22) and Deepak Ratnakar Gaikwad (23), both residents of Mahad taluka in Raigad district of Maharashtra.
According to the police, Kolhe is attached to 19 Maharashtra Battalion and is posted in Kupwada in J&K. He is currently on a 30-day leave. A senior police officer, who is part of the investigation, said: “During interrogations, Kolhe said he procured the brown sugar from a man in J&K having links with Pakistan. He came in contact with Walunj and Gaikwad though a middleman in Raigad. A search has been launched to nab this middleman.”
Bhosale said: “The three were going to Solapur to deliver the consignment of brown sugar. We nabbed them in Bhosari. We recovered the brown sugar they had kept in a bag placed in the boot of the car. We have also impounded the car. The three suspects have been arrested under sections of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. The suspects could be linked to a bigger racket of brown sugar trade.”
Meanwhile, operatives of intelligence agencies were pressed into action as the involvement of an Army jawan in the contraband trade was revealed. It is being probed if Kolhe developed contacts with brown sugar smugglers operating on the Indo-Pak border in J&K. The police suspect he was involved in drug dealings in the past. Investigations are on to also find out if more people from the Army were involved in the racket.
Police are also procuring the details of Walunj and Gaikwad to know if they were involved in any criminal activities in the past. The three suspects were Thursday produced before a magistrate court, which remanded them in police custody till May 26.