On Monday, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) officials arrested Deveshi Kulshreshtha, a Jet Airways air hostess. It is said she was carrying U.S. dollars worth Rs. 3.21 crores. The DRI in a statement said, “US Dollars valued at Rs. 3.21 crores recovered from a lady crew member of a Hong Kong bound Jet Airways flight last night at Indira Gandhi International airport.”
A hawala operator Amit Malhotra was also arrested. It is said he was in touch with a few other crew members from the airlines. Amit would collect money from bullion dealers in Delhi and send it to his contacts abroad through airline crew members. A Senior Official of the DRI said, “Our investigations have shown that there is a larger international hawala racket which was operating and the arrest of Deveshi Kulshreshtha is just a small cog in the wheel.”
According to the DRI, Deveshi was asked to deliver the money in Hong Kong. She was caught on her eighth trip and was paid Rs. 1 lakh per trip. An Official of the DRI said, “The money was being used for purchasing gold abroad. The gold would then be sent to India illegally. We need to figure if this was a case of a lapse or collusion.”
This probe is said to uncover not only an international hawala racket but also help to observe the possibility of collusion of security officers. DRI officials stated the conduct of security personnel will be under the lens. It will throw up many lessons for the security establishment on the gaps existing in what is considered to be a foolproof security procedure at Indian airports.
Aluminium foil used to wrap the currency bundles made it hard to detect the money. A total of 48 bundles of currency notes was found in Deveshi’s luggage, 32 in her check in luggage and 16 in her hand baggage. A DRI Official said, “She had already boarded the plane. Passengers were about to board. After we received information, we first stopped boarding and then checked her hand baggage and recovered the cash.”
It is said Deveshi came in contact with Amit to exchange foreign currency. Amit gave Deveshi an ample amount of money that got her involved in the racket.