India has a long list of scandals. While there are some genuinely big scandals like coal-gate, 2G, Bofors, Vyapam, etc., there are some scandals that are worth noticing. One such scandal was the 1971 Nagarwala scandal where a person imitated Indira Gandhi’s voice and took Rs. 60 lakh from State Bank of India.
On May 21, 1971, at the peak of the Indo-Pak war for the liberation of Bangladesh, Rustom Sohrab Nagarwala called up Ved Prakash Malhotra at the State Bank of India and imitated the voice of then-PM, Indira Gandhi. Nagarwala claimed that the PM needed Rs. 60 lakh immediately.
There are several media speculations as to what Nagarwala said to the bank for the withdrawal of such a large sum of money. Some believe that he said that the PM needs the money for a “secret mission to Bangladesh” while others claim that the money was requested for a man from Bangladesh.
When questioned, Nagarwala said that he described it as a “matter of great national importance”. Nagarwala also told the bank manager to contact the Prime Minister’s Office at a later date to collect the receipt. Convinced that it was indeed the PM speaking, Malhotra agreed to give the money and delivered it to Nagarwala. While accepting the money, Nagarwala acted as if he were a courier accepting the money on behalf of the PM.
Later, when Malhotra went to the PMO to take the receipt, he was told that the PM did not ask for such withdrawal. Malhotra immediately informed the police who caught Nagarwala from the airport in less than a day’s time. Most of the money was recovered from him and he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment.
Nagarwala allegedly confessed to the crime on May 26, 1971, and was convicted in a ten-minute trial. In 1978, a commission set up by P Jagan Mohan Reddy to probe into the case submitted the report saying that Nagarwala’s confession should have been rejected as it is not substantiated by evidence. In one of his letters written from jail, Nagarwala claimed that he wanted to reveal the truth behind the crime and that it would be a “great eye-opener for the nation”. However, Nagarwala died of cardiac attack while in prison.
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