RAIPUR: In one of the biggest seizure of currency notes “meant for Maoists” in Bastar, the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Chhattisgarh police confiscated over Rs 78 lakh cash from a tendu leaf trader and his two associates in strive-torn Kanker district, some 200 km south of Raipur on Saturday.
The police arrested a businessman Kashyap Patel and his two associates Ravindra Yashwant and Narayan Rangari who allegedly came from Maharashtra’s Gondia district to hand over the cash to the outlawed CPI (Maoist).
The vehicle of Patel, who is the owner of a Gondia-based MG Patel company, was stopped by BSF personnel near their base camp and the police for routine check, when the cash of Rs 28 lakh was traced inside the car.
“During sustained interrogation they revealed that the seized cash was to be given to Maoists as levy. We further recovered additional amount of Rs 50 lakhs kept by the trader in a house at Banda. All three were arrested and would be produced in the court”, the Kanker deputy inspector general of police Ratanlal Dangi told the New Indian Express.
The police suspect the contractor trader, who is engaged in tendu leaf business, might have also delivered a big chunk of the money at some undisclosed location. “We are also trying to verify that”, the DIG said.
In areas known to be the stronghold of left-wing extremism, the contractors and businessmen claimed that they need to cough up cash amount demanded by the rebels to secure safe collections of tendu leaves, its transportation and the sale as their entire trade runs on it.
The tendu leaves, usually collected by local tribals during the April-June season, have huge markets running into several hundred crores. The leaves are used for rolling bidis. And the Maoists through levies grab substantial amount as their collections from the contractors.
Maoists have presence in 16 of the 27 districts of Chhattisgarh and the interior areas of Bastar zone continues to be their epicentre.