An investigation into the alleged recruitment racket for selection in the Army through the Common Entrance Examination (CEE) has brought to light yet another way through which desperate youths aspiring for defence jobs are being duped. In a joint operation of the Military Intelligence (MI) and Pune Police, three men, including a serving Army jawan, were arrested on Sunday for allegedly running the racket.
According to investigators, there are striking similarities with past cases ― desperate youth ready to pay money, role of insiders, either serving or retired, and a nexus of touts and dubious coaching classes.
In January, the MI and police busted an alleged racket of the sale of fake question papers of the CEE for Army recruitment in Kolhapur.
Between March and September 2019, the MI and police in Satara arrested the owner of a private coaching centre for recruitment into armed forces, two local agents and three serving jawans for allegedly handing out fake recruitment letters.
In February 2019, a labour contractor was arrested for allegedly running a recruitment racket for civilian posts in various defence organisations through forged appointment letters.
In February 2018, a serving Junior Commissioned Officer of the Army was arrested for allegedly cheating at least 300 aspirants to the tune of Rs 7 crore from Jalgaon and Nashik districts on the pretext of jobs in the Army and handing out fake recruitment letters.
Investigators said the manner in which job aspirants were cheated in these cases had a common pattern. “There is a history of military service at villages in Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara districts and western Maharashtra in general, which reflects in youths from these areas aspiring to join the armed forces. With ever-reducing land holdings, youth from farmer families also look at these jobs as steady employment opportunities with a guarantee of pension. Over the past many years, youth from Marathwada have also aspired for these jobs. While most genuinely prepare for army recruitment, a chunk of them don’t hesitate to explore illegal ways. They are ready to pay large sums of money in lakhs to agents, in many cases by selling or mortgaging land holdings,” said an officer.
A police officer from Pune, who has served in Kolhapur and Satara in the past, said, “According to a primary estimate, there are at least 50 small and big coaching centres in Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara districts that provide training for the armed forces and police jobs. At some of these entities, agents hunt for targets with or without the collusion of the owners of these centres. Through old acquaintances, these agents and some people with inside knowledge of defence establishments, either serving or former soldiers in most cases, come together to cheat aspiring candidates. With concrete inputs from the MI and local reach, the state police has been able to crack down on these rackets, but no one can deny there are more undetected nexuses. It is certainly worrying for obvious reasons. We urge youths to approach us or military authorities if they have been approached by such agents and have information about such rackets.”
Investigators said sometimes they were surprised that these rackets were run so overtly. In February 2017, a police probe into the alleged leak of the examination paper of the Army Recruitment Board, showed that an Army soldier, who was arrested later, had received the leaked paper on his phone from an office employee and sent it to others. Nine suspects arrested from Thane had gone to the extent of hiring a community hall and were coaching candidates on the previous night for answers to the questions when police raided the premises.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines