A 25 years old Jet Airways air hostess Deveshi Kulshreshtha was arrested by DRI with a hawala operator Amit Malhotra, Both of them  were arrested by the DRI and have been sent to two-day judicial custody. At the time of her arrest, Kulshreshtha was carrying $480,200, which roughly amounts to Rs 3.2 crore.

 Now, who is Deveshi Kulshreshtha?

 Married a year ago, Kulshreshtha, 25, lives with her husband who is employed at an online job portal. DRI investigation revealed that the woman had recently booked a 3 BHK flat in Noida and had paid 30 per cent of the money in advance.  “It came to focus that she has two different bank accounts. Malhotra would always give her cash, and she would deposit it in her second account, opened recently. Around Rs 2 lakh was found in her new account. Her husband told investigators he was not aware of her extra income,” sources said.

 A Jet Airways spokesperson said that during the DRI team inspection, a large sum of foreign currency was recovered from their employee. “The employee has been taken into custody. Based on the investigations and inputs from law enforcement agencies, the airline will take further action. Jet Airways has a strict code of conduct and zero tolerance towards any action of its employees that contravenes domestic or international laws of the countries in which it operates,”.

 Now who is Amit Malhotra?

 Jet Airways crew member Kulshreshtha met Malhotra on a New Delhi-Hong Kong Jet Airways flight in August 2017. The 47-year-old, who operates a tour and travel business in Vivek Vihar, is believed to have made the proposition to Kulshreshtha then. “Malhotra had a conversation with her for about two-three minutes and later met her outside IGI Airport. He struck a deal with her and told her he would pay her Re 1 for every dollar she helped to launder,”  adding that DRI raided his east Delhi house and recovered Rs 3.3 lakh in Indian currency and $2,500 foreign currency. Officials are probing if Malhotra was in touch with Delhi businessmen for converting their black money into white.

Malhotra was allegedly giving Kulshreshtha lesser money than promised. He paid her Rs 1 lakh even though she was allegedly being made to carry $480,200. She realized she had been lied to only after the DRI arrested her.

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image: IndianExpress

 How was the money was smuggled out of the country?

 According to DRI, one of the methods included wrapping the money in aluminum foil to avoid detection.“She allegedly used to wrap the money in aluminum foil so it would not be caught in the scanner. After reaching Hong Kong, someone would meet her in the hotel and collect the money,”.

While she smuggled $50,000 on her first trip, the amount had increased $480,200 on her last trip. DRI sources said Kulshreshtha had made seven trips in around five months.

 Around 2 am on Monday, a team entered a flight about to begin boarding for Hong Kong and checked Ms Kulshrestha’s baggage. Officials were stunned to find in a suitcase, hidden beneath shoes and cosmetics, wads of 100 dollar bills, each tightly packed in foil and cloth to dodge the x-ray. She was immediately ordered off the flight and later arrested. Ms Kulshrestha allegedly told officials that she had carried 10 lakh dollars in multiple trips over the past two months. She was paid Rs. one lakh for each trip, say the police. During hours of questioning, she reportedly named a hawala operator based from Delhi, Amit Malhotra.

Investigators say Amit Malhotra, 40, collected money from bullion dealers in Delhi and would try to get airline workers to take the money abroad, which was then channeled back to India in the form of gold.

Malhotra allegedly befriended Ms Kulshrestha on a flight six months ago and convinced her to carry illegal money to Hong Kong. Around Rs. 3 lakh in cash and 1,600 dollars have been found in raids at Malhotra’s home in Delhi.

 How the Plot was Done?

In August 2017, Amit Malhotra  was travelling in a Jet Airways flight from Hong Kong to Delhi when he was impressed by Devshi Kulshrestha,  a member of the cabin crew.

After serving dinner to the flyers, the air hostess was taking a break in the bay area when Malhotra approached her and talk to her and thanks her for her hospitality.

After some days , she got a message from Malhotra, asking if they could meet some time, The two met on her day off  it was then that Malhotra told her about his plan. According to DRI officials, he told Kulshrestha that she could earn quick money by carrying some cash meant for a “business associate” on her way to Hong Kong. Initially, Kulshrestha was negative about the offer, and even turned him down once. However, a persistent Malhotra managed to convince her. He even held demos for her to prove that the money neatly wrapped in foil couldn’t be detected by X-ray machines. To begin with, Malhotra played safe  the first trip involved a small amount.

After placing a stack of dollars at the bottom, Kulshrestha put her make-up kit and clothes over them. The foil were passed off as chocolates. After landing in Hong Kong, she went to her hotel and messaged the details to Malhotra. After that , Malhotra’s local contact picked up the cash from there. It was a no-glitch operation  and the beginning of a lengthy, and rewarding, arrangement. Every month, she would pick up one or two consignments and deliver them to Malhotra’s partner in Hong Kong. Lately, she had been charging a rupee for every dollar, police said. In the operation foiled by DRI officials, she was to get around Rs 4.8 lakh. According to police, she delivered seven consignments before her luck finally ran out

 Basically  from Dehra Dun, Kulshrestha got married in early 2017, and was living with her husband  employed with a job portal  in east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar. While her husband claimed innocence, DRI officials said they were looking into his involvement as it was not possible for him to be unaware of influx of such a huge amount of cash. Her father is a retired person from senior position in an insurance firm whereas her father-in-law is a retired defense official.

 Malhotra stayed in Jhilmil Colony near Vivek Vihar. When TOI contacted his wife on Tuesday, she denied having any knowledge about the case. “He ran a travel agency. I don’t know why police have arrested him,” she said.