In the early hours of August 25, an SUV owned by a Kerala-based gold merchant was stopped by a four-member gang near Madukkarai on the outskirts of Coimbatore, about 17 km from the Kerala border checkpost. Posing as a police team, the gang allegedly assaulted the three occupants of the SUV and sped away with the vehicle, which had Rs 3.9 crore cash in it.
In the following weeks, a special team formed by Tamil Nadu Police found that three of the gang members, who allegedly hijacked the car, were actually policemen.
Inspector Muthukumar, Sub-Inspector Saravanan and SSI Dharmendran, all from Karur district of Tamil Nadu, were suspended on Wednesday. While Muthukumar is reported to be in custody, Saravanan and Dharmendran are absconding.
According to the police, the incident occurred on August 25, when three associates of Malappuram-based gold merchant Anwar Sathar were returning to Kerala from Chennai, where they had been sent for some work. The SUV, owned by Sathar, was stopped by four people near Madukkarai.
“Three of them were in police uniform. On checking the vehicle, they found the cash. They then asked occupants of the SUV to accompany them to a nearby police station. They were made to get in the jeep and one of the gang members, who was in plain clothes, drove the SUV. Minutes later, the police jeep stopped at an isolated place on the highway. The men assaulted the occupants of the SUV, left them on the roadside and sped away,” said an officer.
According to a senior police officer, the first roadblock in the probe came when the SUV owner denied that there was cash in the car, contradicting the first complaint filed in the case. “Later we confirmed that there was cash in the car. When we traced the vehicle to Thrissur, we found currency notes strewn around the seats,” said the officer.