KOCHI: The Supreme Court’s order lifting RBI’s ban on cryptocurrency trade has brought smiles to many in Kerala. But the move has also opened up dark memories of a brutal murder of a 24-year-old youth from Malappuram a couple of months back and whereabouts of crores of money which the youth raised from people for investing in cryptocurrency.
It was in August 2019 that the body of Abdul Shukoor, a Malappuram native, was found inside a car parked in front of a hospital at Dehradun in Uttarakhand. Shukoor was a young entrepreneur who founded two cyrptocurrency exchanges - ‘bitjax.BTC’ and ‘BTC.bit.shukoor -and raised a fortune of Rs 450 crore from various people promising them good returns after trading in cryptocurrencies.
However, his plans failed when the value of Bitcoin plummeted and the investors started putting pressure on him to return the money. To escape the wrath of the investors, Shukoor along with his nine other partners fled to Dehradun where another partner Yasin was studying. After reaching Dehradrun, the other nine partners plotted to torture Shukoor to get the password of the two exchanges so that they can access the cryptocurrencies and later sell them. Police said though his partners tortured Shukoor for two days at a hideout in Dehradun to get the password, they couldn’t get it from Shukoor who finally collapsed and died. Later, the accused took the body in a car to a hospital and parked the vehicle there. “We were swift to act when we received information from the hospital about the body. We managed to nab five of the accused. We have filed a chargesheet in the case and the trial is on,” said Dehradun superintendent of police Shweta Chaubey. The arrested were Manjeri natives Faris Mamnun, C Aravind, Asif Ali, Aftab Muhammad and Sufail Mukhtar.
Police are also on the lookout for the remaining accused while there is no details about the Bitcoins which Shukoor had bought for trade using the money. Probe revealed that Shukoor was holding around 6,000 Bitcoins and as per current value of the Bitcoin, the total value of the Bitcoins with Shukoor would have been Rs 360 crore.
Perinthalmanna Circle Inspector Gireesh Kumar said though the Dehradun police were probing the murder, they were also probing the case based on a complaint received at the office of the district police chief.
Nivin C Joy, a Bitcoin trade expert, said the Bitcoins are stored using passcodes and it’s hard for any hacker to access the passcodes. “Only if someone knows the passcodes, they could access the Bitcoins purchased by Shukoor. “Passcodes are not easy to access like a password. Passcodes are generally a series of words in a particular order. If no one has access to the passcode, the bitcoins will be in a state of halt. It will be there forever and nobody will be able to access it,” Nivin added.
Business deals that led to murder
In Dehradrun, other nine business partners plotted to torture Shukoor to get the password of the two exchanges so that they can access the cryptocurrencies and later sell them. Police said though his partners tortured Shukoor for two days at a hideout in Dehradun to get the password, they couldn’t get it from Shukoor who finally collapsed and died.