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Sukesh Chandrashekhar: When lure of luxury lands you in lock-up

By Ujwal Jalali
New Delhi, Nov 18 (IANS) Sukesh Chandrashekhar -- the silk stocking conman -- has been the talk of the town for the past couple of months.

Accused of duping the rich -- businessmen, politicians and celebrities alike -- the multi-millionaire conman hit the headlines after the sleuths of the Enforcement Directorate (ED) probing Chandrashekhar in a money laundering case landed at his luxurious sea-facing bungalow in Chennai in August.

What was inside astonished everybody!

To start with, the value of the bungalow ran into crores of rupees. It had a movie theatre, gym, swimming pool and rooftop recreational area, including a mini bar. All the rooms in the bungalow were stuffed with expensive furniture and the dining room had a sprawling table.

A fleet of luxury cars -- Lamborghini, Porsche, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Bentley, Mercedes, BMW and Land Rover -- were lined up outside the house. Not to forget hundreds of pairs of shoes. They were of such expensive brands that a poor man might not even earn the amount in his entire life to buy a single pair.

The sleuths of the financial probe agency had seized the massive bungalow, Rs 82.5 lakh in cash and over a dozen luxury cars.

The limelight was now on Chandrashekhar, who was incarcerated at the high-security Tihar Jail in the national capital. How did a 12th pass man gather so much money?

Born in a lower middle-class family in Bengaluru, Chandrashekhar always dreamt of becoming a millionaire. In order to turn his dream into reality, Chandrashekhar was determined to earn money by hook or by crook.

He started conning people from the age of 17. In 2007, he duped around 100 people of Rs 75 crore on the pretext of providing them jobs, posing as a high-ranking bureaucrat. After a few years, he also duped politician T.T.V. Dhinakaran of Rs 50 crore.

The Crime Branch of Delhi Police arrested Chandrashekhar based on Dhinakaran's complaint, following which he was lodged at Tihar Jail.

What was more astonishing was the fact that the conman continued to run his racket from inside the prison. He is accused of extorting Rs 200 crore from the family of ex-Fortis Healthcare and Ranbaxy Lab promoters, Shivinder Singh and Malvinder Singh, from within the premises of the high-security prison.

But how did he do that?

Certainly there was an inside help, but the price of that help was also high. The conman was reportedly paying Rs 75 lakh per fortnight as bribe for a cellphone.

Later, the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police arrested five top Tihar Jail officials. However, Chandrashekhar's modus operandi to con the Singhs was extremely impressive.

While calling Shivinder's wife, Chandrashekhar posed as Union Law Secretary Anoop Kumar and offered help in getting bail for her husband. In August 2020, he used a spoofing app to pretend that he was calling from then Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad's home. Interestingly, before disconnecting every call, Chandrashekhar used to say 'Jai Hind'.

Earlier this month, the Delhi Police filed a chargesheet against the accused conman, his wife Leena Maria Paul and 12 others in the same case related to duping Shivinder's wife of Rs 200 crore.

Reportedly, there are 32 criminal cases registered against the couple -- Chandrashekhar and Leena -- which are pending before the courts.

The police had also invoked the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) against Chandrashekhar and his wife. Besides the duo, MCOCA has been invoked against 10 other people.

The probe is still going on and the Delhi Police have made a number of arrests in connection with the Rs 200 crore extortion case after filing the charge-sheet.