Srinagar: In what may perhaps be the city’s “biggest gold heist”, a jeweller was conned off ornaments worth lakhs of rupees by two persons, apparently foreigners Thursday afternoon.
On Tuesday, two men, one of them wearing an Armani suit and a Rolex watch, visited Hollywood Ornaments’ owned by Mohammad Yousuf Sofi at Hari Singh High Street, and ordered a 24 carat gold chain of 250 grams against some advance payment.
“We told them to come next day and gave them a receipt. They came at the given time and wanted to pay in dollars which we refused,” said Salman Yousuf, son of the proprietor.
The duo then came with cash in Indian currency and took the gold chain and on the same day gave another order for two more chains weighing six kilograms.
“We told them that it cannot be arranged in a short period, so they settled for 1400 grams – 700 grams each chain – against the earlier advance as they had paid for the first order separately,” Salman said.
The next day Salman called them to collect their order and while they were busy doing the calculations one of them deftly replaced the chain packet with another packet which later turned out to be filled with some metal.
The CCTV footage of incident, that has gone viral on social media, shows one of the men engaging the salesman in conservation while his partner, who looks quite old, with a long grey beard and hair, dressed in a grey suit, manages to replace the product deftly. Later the duo went out with an excuse to change the dollars into rupees but never returned.
“After a long time passed and they did not return I grew suspicious and checked the CCTV footage of the shop and the fact dawned on us that we have been cheated. The guy had replaced the packet on the counter with the fake one while we were busy with the calculations,” Salman said with a heavy heart.
According to the sales persons who were present at the shop, the conmen “looked like foreigners” and said they were from Lebanon.
According to then, they were well mannered and spoke good English but among themselves they spoke some other language, which sounded like Arabic, Persian or Pashto.
Salman said that they called on the number from which they used to call, but it turned out to be the driver’s number who had given his SIM card to them after they failed to get one, since they were foreigners.
After CCTV footage of the shop went viral, Salman received many other pictures of the men form other people.
One of the pictures came from the city restaurant ‘Linz’ where the accused have had Wazwan on Sep 5. The picture was taken by a little girl randomly when she was out with his family at the same place. Also they were seen around a mechanic shop near Barbarshah.
“We also received CCTV footage from a shop owned by a Kashmiri in Goa as the guys had visited them recently but no deal had taken place between them. There are also reports that the same guys were spotted in Bombay recently,” Salman said.
Salman says that the apart from the tragedy that had befallen the Sofi family, they are more tense because of its timing.
“It is my sister’s wedding tomorrow and I am here looking for clues and doing rounds of police station.”
Police officials at Shaheed Gunj police station said they have launched a manhunt to nab the theives. “We have issued a look-out notice and alerted tourist police as well,” said a police official. “We have also circulated CCTV footage from the shop to all the concerned agencies.”
Tourist Police S.H.O, Inspector Suhail told Kashmir Reader said that they have also visited the shop.
“Since they are believed to be foreigners we will provide all the necessary information to our counterparts at Shaheed Gunj police station,” Suhail said.