Mr Natwarlal strikes again, almost

Patna, Feb. 14: Chandra Bhushan Singh is a police constable posted in Samastipur district. He is also a conman who would have made his north Bihar compatriot Mr Natwarlal proud.

Chandra Bhushan, 38, was suspended from the district police force for fraud in June last year. Since then, the suspended cop has run riot ' duping over a dozen businessmen of Vaishali and Samastipur districts of over Rs 10 lakh by issuing them dud cheques in exchange for costly articles he purchased from them.

In this, his acts match those of Mithilesh Srivastava, the Siwan conman known as Natwarlal and made famous on screen by Amitabh Bachchan. Natwarlal, who went on to carry out large-scale frauds such as "selling off" the Taj Mahal, Rashtrapati Bhavan and even Parliament, had started out by duping traders and shopkeepers by issuing them forged cheques and demand drafts.

Like Natwarlal, Chandra Bhushan takes care of his appearance: always nattily turned out in his official police uniform, the badge of an assistant sub-inspector, a higher rank, pinned on his lapel. He is not shy of being spotted in public, often seen shopping with a young and smart woman, who he introduced as his wife.

Chandra Bhushan, a native of Muzaffarpur district's Sakra area, has an impressive personality ' over six-feet tall, wears branded clothes, his eyes covered by high-end glares. No wonder the businessmen he duped were taken in by his appearance.

The woman, eyewitnesses said, is of average height, dresses elegantly in saris and speaks fluent Hindi.

Chandra Bhushan's colleagues in the police force say he had hired the woman to carry out his fraudulent activities. They said Chandra Bhushan's wife stays with their son in Muzaffarpur's Tara Bishunpur village under Sakra police station area. "His wife was present at his native place when a team from the Hajipur Town police station carried out a raid there a few days ago," a senior police officer said.

Chandra Bhushan, whose monthly salary is Rs 20,000 and who has been in service for the past 15 years, was known to frequent shopping malls and showrooms of companies selling branded goods with the woman, purchase ornaments, clothes and other costly articles, which he paid for by cheque.

Their modus operandi came to the surface when the cop duped a noted jewellery shop owner of Hajipur, the district headquarters of Vaishali, about 20km north of Patna, recently.

The "couple" visited Sony Alankar Jewellers located on Gudari Bazar on Thursday, February 7, and purchased gold ornaments. Chandra Bhushan handed over a cheque of Rs 90,000 drawn on State Bank of India. The store owner, Krishna Prasad Gupta, did not suspect anything as the man was wearing a police uniform and had introduced himself as an "assistant sub-inspector" posted at the Hajipur Town police station whose jurisdiction covers Gudari Bazar.

The fraud came to light when the cheque bounced. "When I sent a staff member to locate the police official, he was told by some cops manning the Town police station that no policeman by the name of Chandra Bhushan Singh was ever posted there," Gupta said, adding that only then did he realise that he had been deceived.

Chandra Bhushan had told Gupta that he was buying ornaments for the wedding of his daughter and also promised to visit the shop again to buy more jewellery after the cheque was cleared.

An employee of the shop quoted Chandra Bhushan as saying that as a public servant, he was supposed to provide details of his assets to the state government every year.

After the cheque was dishonoured, Gupta contacted senior police officials who asked him to lodge a formal complaint. "The police launched an investigation and obtained CCTV camera footage from the shop. The identity of the cop was ascertained with the help of his mobile phone number obtained from the bank he has an account with," said M.K. Gupta, station house officer of Hajipur Town police station.

The officer said that Chandra Bhushan had earlier purchased a motorcycle from a resident of Vaishali a few weeks ago and handed over a cheque, which too had bounced. "We have come to know that he has duped at least four persons in Vaishali district alone," the station house officer told The Telegraph.

Vaishali superintendent of police Upendra Kumar Sinha said the constable under the lens was part of the Samastipur force. "I personally talked to my counterpart in Samastipur, who informed me that he (Chandra Bhushan) was suspended in June last year on similar charges and since then he has been absconding," Sinha said.

The SP said he had asked the investigating officer to obtain an arrest warrant against the constable charged with forgery and cheating. "The antecedents of the constable are being verified," he added.

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