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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Explained: Who are Angadias and what are the challenges they face?

Who are Angadias? How does the system work, and is it legal? Why have Angadias been targeted so frequently?

Written by Mohamed Thaver , Edited by Explained Desk | Mumbai |
February 23, 2022 7:02:04 am
The Angadia system works completely on trust as large sums, at times in crores, are involved.

An FIR has been registered against three Mumbai Police officials last week for allegedly threatening Angadias and extorting money from them in south Mumbai. Earlier this month, an Angadias shop in Mulund was looted by a gang of robbers. Who are these Angadias and why are they targeted frequently?

Who are Angadias?

The Angadia system is a century-old parallel banking system in the country where traders send cash generally from one state to another through a person called Angadia that stands for courier. It is by and large used in the jewellery business with Mumbai – Surat being the most popular route as they are two ends of the diamond trade. The cash involved is huge and it is the responsibility of the Angadia to transfer cash from one state to another for which they charge a nominal fee. Generally, it is the Gujarati, Marwari and Malbari community that are involved in the business.

How does the system work?

The Angadia system works completely on trust as large sums, at times in crores, are involved. Generally, traders have the same Angadias for decades together. If a trader from Zaveri Bazaar in south Mumbai wants to pay a diamond trader in Surat, he will send an Angadias who usually delivers the money within 24 hours. They also have fixed trains that leave from Mumbai at night and reach Gujarat by early morning. Usually, to verify authenticity, the trader will, for example, will give a Rs 10 note to the Angadia and provide the number of the note to the recipient. It is only after the recipient confirms the note number that the Angadia will hand over the money to the person. After making the payment, the Angadias return to Mumbai the same day.

Is the system legal?

While the Angadia system per se is legal, there hangs a cloud over the activity as it is suspected that a lot of times it is used to transfer unaccounted money. Since the business deals in cash and there is no account maintained for the same, there have been suspicions that it is also used for transfer of black money like the hawala transaction which is generally used across countries.

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Why have Angadias been targeted so frequently?

The fact that Angadias carry large quantities of cash makes them susceptible as targets of robbery. In Mulund when robbers looted a shop earlier this month, they fled with Rs 77 lakh in cash. Unlike in cases of robbing jewellery which then has to be sold and could leave behind a trail, disposing of cash is much easier. Apart from this, since individual Angadias carry cash, robbers keep an eye out for their routes and loot them. On several occasions it has turned out that former employees aware about working of the Angadias have been the perpetrators of the crime. Angadias have also started getting security guards to come along and usually travel in large groups to avoid being targeted. Further, like in the recent case in Mumbai, cops are known to extort and threaten Angadias to get money from them as there is a shadow of doubt over the legality of the money they transfer.

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