CHANDIGARH: Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, Punjab Police has busted a gang involved in making forged passes for stranded migrant labourers. The gang has already facilitated travel for 71 labourers to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in exchange for Rs 3.5 lakh.
Police have arrested nine members of the gang and booked them under various sections of IPC at the Tanda police station, said Punjab DGP Dinkar Gupta. Five fake passes, a fake stamp of SDM Tanda, one computer, a printer and six mobile phones have been seized from them. One member of the gang is absconding, the DGP added.
Gupta said the accused were charging about Rs 60,000 for booking of a tempo and Rs 30,000 for Toyota Innova. Of the 71 labourers smuggled out of Punjab so far, 13 were transported in a truck, 20 each in two Tempos and six each in three Innovas. Since April 12, these vehicles made a total of four trips transporting workers to Gonda district of Bihar and Lucknow and Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh.
Police zeroed in on the gang after Hoshiarpur Police detected fake curfew passes being used by people to cross the state border into Haryana and UP. Trouble arose for the gang when alert officials 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 gang.
Revealing the modus operandi of the accused, Hoshiyarpur senior SP Gaurav Garg said that the gang created forged curfew passes using computer software and the same were pasted on the windscreen of the vehicles. The driver and the cleaner of the vehicles were given copies of the forged passes 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 got a copy of the pass.
While seven of the accused - Satnam Singh, Ravi Kumar, Gaurav Kumar, Sukhwinder Singh, Chander Mohan, Ajay Pal and Kamal Mehra - are residents of Tanda, two of them - Vishal Vohra and Pankaj Kumar - belong to Hoshiarpur. The accused on the run has been identified as Chandan.