Two brothers pilfered oil from tankers for seven years without arousing suspicion of fuel station owners and amassed a fortune of nearly Rs 5 crore. But luck ran out for them when a massive tanker blaze exposed the scam and landed them in jail.
The rags-to-riches run of Raju and Jagdeep Kulal, both in their thirties, came to an end on January 12 when a petrol tanker caught fire and exploded while they were pilfering petrol. On January 15, the two were arrested.
“The probe is revealing some interesting details,’’ said DCP R Umamaheshwara Sharma, adding that it would take weeks to completely know the modus operandi of the brothers, poor migrants from Gulbarga who settled down in Chengicherla, on the outskirts of Hyderabad, about 10 years ago.
“When they came from Gulbarga in search of jobs, they were penniless. Today, they are crorepatis, owning 13 tankers worth approximately Rs 3 crore, besides land and houses, the value of which is being estimated.’’
“They also owned an iron fabrication and welding unit at Chengicherla which was gutted when the tanker exploded,” Sharma said. At the welding plant, the brothers used to pilfer oil daily from 20-25 tankers including their 13 vehicles that were hired by various oil companies to transport petrol and diesel to fuel stations in and around Hyderabad,” Sharma said. They pilfered a small portion of petrol or diesel from each tanker and paid commissions to the drivers.
According to Rajiv Amaram, president of Telangana Petroleum Dealers’ Association, the average loss a dealer expects and writes off because of various factors during transportation is about 90 litres in a 12,000-litre tanker and about 150 litres in a 20,000-litre vehicle. “If the loss does not exceed 90-150 litres per tanker, most owners would not even notice even if it is due to pilferage,” Amaram said.
The tanker drivers, who were hand-in-glove with Raju and Jagdeep, would park their vehicles at the welding unit on the pretext of repairing the tankers. Raju and Jagdeep sold petrol for Rs 40-45 a litre to agents who would sell it in bottles on the roadside for Rs 80 or Rs 100 per litre. The fire occurred on January 12 when the brothers were pilfering petrol from a tanker. Three workers were welding an empty tanker and sparks flew around and triggered a blaze. Raju, Jagdeep and five workers fled. The loaded tanker exploded, gutting everything around it.