A probe into an alleged racket involved in issuing fake Army recruitment letters to youths has revealed the involvement of three serving jawans of the Indian Army. Police suspect that at least 125 youths have been cheated in the scam, which was brought to light jointly by the Pune-based Military Intelligence Unit of the Southern Command and Satara police in March this year.
In a joint effort by the Southern Command’s Military Intelligence Unit and the Satara police, the owner of a coaching centre for defence forces recruitment was initially arrested along with an aide in March. While two more civilians were arrested subsequently, police have now identified three serving Army jawans — two of Havildar rank and one Sepoy — who were actively involved in the scam that ran between early 2017 and late 2018.
Police have identified the arrested civilians as Vishnu Dhembre (36), who ran the coaching centre at Shripalvan village in Satara, his aides Bhagwan Shirtode (29), Shubham Shinde (23) and Sunil Pawar (30), who helped in making forged recruitment papers and stamps of the military institutions. Of the three jawans found to be involved in the scam, one is still posted in Pune while the other two are posted in Jammu & Kashmir and Lucknow. At the time of the scam, all of them were posted in Pune.
Police Inspector Vijay Kumbhar of the Local Crime Branch of Satara police, who is probing the case, said, “Our probe shows that it was Dhembre who used to net the young aspirants through the links of his coaching institute. The racketeers would take anywhere between Rs 2 and 5 lakh per candidate, sometimes even in installments. After taking the money, they used to tell the candidates that the initial process has been done and the medical exam was awaited. In most of the cases, candidates were made to go to a military hospital in Pune, where their fake medical tests were done. It is at this stage that the serving jawans came into the picture. These so-called medical tests were done in the hours with least crowding.”
Inspector Kumbhar added, “After that, fake recruitment letters from military units were handed over to candidates. We suspect that at least 125 youths have been cheated in the manner. We have begun the process to arrest the three jawans.” After receiving inputs on multiple cases of fake letters, the Military Intelligence Unit had started digging into them and discovered a pattern and a common source of the fake letters issued to the youths from Satara, Sangli and Solapur districts.
The three serving jawans are originally from Satara district, and besides being part of the racket in military hospital, they are also suspected to have helped trap candidates using their local contacts. Police probe has also revealed that the civilians arrested in the case would often pose as Army jawans in their villages to attract aspiring youths. Several villages in Satara and Sangli have higher number of people recruited in uniformed forces, specially the Army, and the racketeers specifically targetted youths from these villages, investigation has revealed.
Investigators are now probing whether any more civilians or defence personnel were involved in the scam. They have also appealed to people to approach them if they have been cheated in the similar fashion.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines