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Arjuna award winning para badminton player alleges immigration fraud

In a complaint lodged with Patiala SSP on December 1 last year, Raj Kumar's younger brother, Gurpreet, named Poonam Rani, wife of Kamal Kumar, for orchestrating the alleged fraud.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
January 20, 2021 1:06:57 am
On the left Raj Kumar, a resident of Sanour village in Patiala who won silver medals in doubles and mixed doubles para badminton category in 2014 Asian games. (Express Photo)

Punjab Police are probing an alleged case of cheating where brother of an Arjuna awardee para badminton player in the state has been duped of Rs 25 lakh on the pretext of sending him to Canada as a permanent resident.

Raj Kumar, a resident of Sanour village in Patiala who won silver medals in doubles and mixed doubles para badminton category in 2014 Asian games, told The Indian Express on Tuesday that he paid “the majority of the Rs 25 lakh which was given in instalments since 2017” for the Canadian dream of his brother, Gurpreet Singh.

Kumar said he was conferred with Rs 32 lakh reward by the state government in 2014 following his feat in Asian games. Kumar currently works as Lower Division Clerk (LDC). He was regularised in 2011 on the post with Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and is in middle of a training camp by Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Lucknow for Tokyo Olympics.

In a complaint lodged with Patiala SSP on December 1 last year, Raj Kumar’s younger brother, Gurpreet, named Poonam Rani, wife of Kamal Kumar, for orchestrating the alleged fraud.

As per the complaint, the accused allegedly extracted Rs 25 lakh in different instalments from September 2017 onwards.

Raj Kumar said that Poonam worked as sweeper with a bank and deposited sums of amount received from Gurpreet in her husband’s account.

Poonam, when contacted, said that she had deposited money “only two times” and was “not aware of the rest of the transactions which were being claimed”.

She added that she was not aware if her husband had promised Gurpreet to send him abroad.

“Now when I asked why you have been depositing money in my husband’s account. Then he claimed that he was depositing money as my husband was sending him abroad. They are friends. Gurpreet and my husband would bring their friends and have drinks together. They would go to places like Manali, Rohtang. They have spent money on such things. I never went with them even once. Now, when he realised that he has spent this much amount, he has also named me. The fact is that I deposited the money only twice,” Poonam said.

“I asked my husband from where you are getting all this amount. I am from Ambala and I get a salary of Rs 28,000 and I think ten times before going to Ambala and they have gone to roam to far off places,” said Poonam.

She added that her husband worked as driver with a cloth merchant, but was not “into sending people abroad”.

Gurpreet refuted allegations that he used to have drinks with Poonam’s husband Kamal. “I don’t drink,” said Gurpreet, adding that “I went out with him twice only in search of his family member”.

Raj Kumar, however, alleged that while he was busy preparing for Tokyo Olympics, his brother got duped of the money.

He refuted claims of Poonam, calling them as baseless. He said the police complaint was made after the family became suspicious of the assurance given by Kamal. Kumar said Kamal had promised to send his brother to Canada as a relative of a Canadian national. He added that he arranged the number of that Canadian national who Kamal was claiming to sponsor the PR, but after talking to that person found out that he had not sponsored Gurpreet.

Patiala Rural DSP Ajay Pal Singh said he will summon all concerned parties for recording their statement on Monday. The DSP said that prima facie he was given to understand that Gurpreet would hand over the money to Poonam for deposit in his (Gurpreet’s) account, but she used to deposit in her husband’s account. On allegations of cheating on pretext of sending Gurpreet to Canada, the DSP said the police would look into that while quizzing all concerned in the case.

Kumar said he qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, which were deferred to 2021 from 2020 due to Covid pandemic, after obtaining required cut off point score, participating in open tournaments in Turkey, Dubai, Uganda, Denmark, Ireland, Thailand, Peru, Brazil and China in 2019.

“But, now I need money to train. I have to train in a private academy for Olympics which will cost me at least Rs 25,000 a month,” said Kumar, who was conferred with Arjuna Award in 2018, two years after he claimed to have enough points to get the award, but was not given in 2016.

He said he had to file a petition in the court to stake claim to the award citing his score. The Arjuna award was eventually given in 2018.

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