The anti-drug STF of the Punjab Police Wednesday claimed to have busted a racket operating in Ludhiana with involvement of its own police officers who would allegedly “detain drug peddlers first and then keep drug recovered from them to either sell or consume”. The STF further claimed that this gang of police officials would later release these peddlers after taking huge sums as bribe.
Addressing a press conference in Ludhiana Wednesday, R S Jaiswal, IG, STF (Jalandhar zone), said that information was received about a ‘gang running with nexus of police officers and drug smugglers in Punjab’.
He said: “Following the interrogation of suspended Head Constable Balbir Singh, who was held with 20 gm heroin on February 16, we have now arrested sub-inspector Amandeep Singh Gill (SHO, division number 2 police station of Ludhiana city) and his private driver Ajay Kumar with 10.35 gram heroin. The S-I, in connivance with suspended head constable, allegedly released five persons who were held with heroin after taking bribe in lakhs from them. He also kept their six phones. The exact bribe amount taken is being verified.”
On the gang’s modus operandi, IG Jaiswal said, “These policemen would first detain drug peddlers, then also keep the drug recovered from them to either sell it ahead or for personal use and then release the peddlers after taking bribe from them. The role and involvement of other policemen cannot be ruled out but it will be clear after their interrogation.”
Head Constable Balbir Singh was earlier posted with anti-narcotics wing of Ludhiana city police. He was suspended from police service after being booked in an extortion case for allegedly extorting Rs 6 lakh from a pharmacist in December 2019.
Harbans Singh, incharge, STF Ludhiana range, said that head constable during his interrogation revealed that on February 11, he had “picked and handed over” five men to S-I Amandeep Singh Gill, along with their Maruti Swift vehicle, six mobile phones and around 22 gram heroin that was recovered from them.
“The head constable was already suspended from police service and had no authority to arrest or detain anyone. He held five alleged peddlers illegally and took them to division number 2 police station. The head constable in connivance with SHO Gill then took bribe in lakhs from families of five men and released them as and when bribe installments were received. They also kept heroin recovered from the five men. SHO also did not take any legal action against them, but instead kept negotiating bribe money for 2-3 days,” said Inspector Harbans Singh.
The five men, whom the suspended head constable detained illegally, were identified as Satvir Singh and Gurpal Singh of village Jassowal (Ludhiana), Harpreet Singh alias Peeta and Gagan (both from Dakha) and one Yadwinder Singh.
Inspector Harbans Singh further told The Indian Express, “Instead of taking any action against five men, SHO Gill along with head constable took bribe from their families and demanded Rs 1 lakh to release their Maruti Swift vehicle….Apart from bribe money, the accused cops also allegedly kept Rs 43,000 in cash which was recovered from the five men.”
He added that entire episode happened between February 11 to 13, before the arrest of Head Constable Balbir Singh on February 16.
“On February 11, when Balbir Singh reached police station division number 2 with five men, he along with SHO first took an installment of Rs 30,000 from family of Gurpal Singh. He then released two men- Gurpal and Yadwinder but did not release Gurpal’s vehicle (Maruti Swift). Then on February 12, Gurpal paid him another installment of Rs 50,000, but Gill still did not release vehicle or the three other men. Then on February 13, Gurpal paid another sum of Rs 10,000 and then his vehicle was released. Three other men were also released on February 13 after taking separate amounts of bribe from their families, which are yet to be verified. Most of bribe money was paid by one Jagroop Singh, relative of Gurpal from village Toosa of Ludhiana,” said the inspector, adding that so far the probe shows that Gill took Rs 90,000 in total from Gurpal Singh to release him and his vehicle.
Gill and his driver, Ajay Kumar, were arrested from village Hansi Kalan of Ludhiana on Tuesday late. Later, the six mobile phones and heroin were recovered from division number 2 police station. “The phones are of different brands including iPhone, Samsung etc. Since they were expecting more bribe money, they had not returned their phones,” said Harbans Singh.
An FIR against SHO Gill, suspended Head Constable Balbir Singh and Ajay Kumar has been registered at STF police station, Mohali, under the Sections 21, 59 (2), 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act.
Ludhiana City Police Commissioner Rakesh Agrawal said that S-I Gill has been suspended while suspended head constable has now been dismissed.
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