Dehradun: A 24-year-old Keralite was killed in Dehradun by his business partners, who wanted to get their hands on the Rs 485-crore that investors had put in the two bitcoin virtual currency exchanges he used to run in his home state.
Police suspect that Abdul Shukoor, a resident of Kerala's Malappuram district, was tortured to death by his partners, also from Kerala.
According to cops, the killers left Shukoor in front of the emergency department of a hospital on Wednesday night after the hospital declared him as "brought dead".
Police caught five of the alleged killers and said five are on the run. Manjeri natives Faris Mamnun, C Aravind, Asif Ali, Aftab Muhammad, Sufail Mukhtar are the five arrested by the cops.
Shukoor had been engaged in bitcoin trade for the past two years and used to operate two trading exchanges named 'bitjax.BTC' and 'BTC.bit.shukoor', police said.
Ashiq, a close aide to Shukoor and the main suspect, Arshad, Sihab, Muneef and Yasin are still on the run. They are also residents of Malappuram.
Four of the 10 are Shukoor’s core team members in the trade and they mobilised many people to invest in Bitcoin. The total investment amounted to about Rs 485 crore.
The business was going well until a year ago when the value of Bitcoin started declining. Shukoor began to incur losses and investors, too, began to ask where their money was, Superintend of Police Arun Mohan Joshi said.
One of the alleged killers, Yasin, was studying in a college in Dehradun, where Shukoor and the nine others were staying after fleeing Kerala on August 12 to escape pressure from investors.
Shukoor had told Ashiq that his Bitcoin trading account had been hacked, and that he would soon launch his own cryptocurrency. He claimed he would return the investors’ money from the profits he would make on the new virtual currency. Ashiq thought Shukoor still had Bitcoins worth hundreds of crore and planned to acquire the password for his trading accounts to encash it.
At Yasin's rented accommodation in Dehradun, the men tied Shukoor to a chair and tortured him brutally from August 26 to August 28. Despite the torture, they failed to get the password and on August 28, when his condition worsened, they panicked. Five of them – who were later arrested – first took him to a city hospital where he was declared brought dead. They then took him to a private hospital which also declared him dead.
They fled the hospital, leaving Shukoor's body in front of the emergency department of the hospital.