CHANDIGARH, APRIL 24 (Punjab Mail)- Amid the Covid curfew/lockdown, the Punjab Police has busted a gang engaged in making forged passes for stranded migrant labourers, with 71 such labourers already transported by them to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in exchange for a total consideration of Rs. 3.5 lakhs.

Nine members of the gang have been arrested and cases registered against them under various sections at the Tanda police station, disclosed DGP Dinkar Gupta, adding that five fake passes,  a stamp of SDM Tanda, a Computer, a CPU, a Printer and six Mobile phones used by them had been seized. One member of the gang is absconding.

The DGP said the accused were charging approx. Rs.60000/- for a Tempo Traveler and Rs.30000/- for Innova. Of the 71 labourers smuggled out of Punjab so far with the help of fake curfew passes, 13 were sent in a truck, 20 each in two Tempo travelers and 6 each in three Innovas. Four rounds had so far been made by vehicles carrying such migrants since April 12 –

to Gonda district of Bihar, as well as Lucknow and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

The gang was busted on the basis of information that came to the notice of Hoshiarpur police that some fake/illegal curfew passes had been used to cross the border from Punjab to Haryana and UP. Trouble arose for the gang when alert officials on duty at Shambhu barrier in Rajpura became suspicious and asked one of the vehicles carrying such migrants to return to Tanda.

On returning to Tanda, the labourers started demanding their money back from the accused, and the whispers of the same reached the police, said the DGP.

Divulging the modus operandi of the accused, SSP Hoshiyarpur, Gaurav Garg, who spearheaded the investigations, said that they had created forged curfew passes using computer software and the same were pasted on the windscreen of the vehicles. The driver and associate cleaner of the vehicle were given copies of the forged passes, which were made  by photoshopping an original pass issued by Batala-SDM to a taxi driver for travelling to IGI Airport, Delhi. The accused met the driver at a petrol pump at Shambhu border while having lunch, and the former showed them his pass, of which they took photographs on the pretext of using it to move around without hassle. However, they soon got the idea of using the photo of the pass to fake passes and make money with them.

Garg said that an FIR dated 24/4/2020, U/S 419, 420, 465, 466, 468, 471, 188, 269, 270, 271,120-B ( IPC ) and Sections 51 and 52 Disaster Management Act has been registered against nine persons.

The accused have been identified as Satnam Singh @ Jassi S/o Prabh Dial R/o Ward No.4, Dashmesh Nagar, Tanda,Ravi Kumar @ Ravi S/o Sunder Lal R/o Santokh Nagar, P.S City, Gaurav Kumar S/o Uma Kant R/o Talwar Mohalla, Ward No.11, Tanda, Sukhwinder Singh @ Raju S/o Surjit Singh R/o Allowal, P.S Bullowal, Chander Mohan S/o Kamaljit Singh R/o Ward No.3, Miani, P.S Tanda Hoshiarpur, Ajay Pal S/o Resham Singh R/o ward No.31, Mohalla Premgarh, P.S City, Kamal Mehra S/o Kundan Lal R/o ward No.7, Bassi Khwaju, P.S Model Town, Vishal Vohra @ Shanu S/o Krishan Lal Vohra R/o Hari Nagar, Hoshiarpur and Pankaj Kumar S/o Darshan Lal R/o ward No.7, Bassi Khwaju, P.S Model Town, Hoshiarpur.

The accused on the run has been identified as Chandan @ Chandu S/o Rattarpal Singh R/o Bhim Nagar, P.S Model Town.