Updated: December 2, 2021 10:08:20 am
THE RECENT arrest of four persons in connection with alleged malpractices in army and police recruitment processes is another instance that has seen the involvement of an insider — an army jawan in this case – besides people linked with coaching centres for job aspirants.
One of the suspects in the latest lot of arrests is connected to multiple suspects arrested and wanted in the Indian Army paper leak scam that was brought to light in February, further investigations have revealed. Pimpri-Chinchwad police on Tuesday said they had arrested four persons, including a serving Army Havildar, in an alleged racket where job aspirants were reportedly promised recruitment in army and police in return of large sums of money. Original certificates of the candidates were confiscated by racketeers as a leverage, police said.
While the Pimpri-Chinchwad police arrested the four accused between November 10 and 16, the action was made public only on Tuesday. Sources have said that while an original input was received by Pimpri- Chinchwad police from Military Intelligence of Southern Command about a possible paper in recruitment examination, police probe has revealed a racket in which the suspects promised assured recruitment in Army and police services in return of large sums of money.
The police have identified the arrested suspects as Praveen Patil (25), a resident of Sangli, Mahesh Vaidya (27), a resident of Solapur, Anil Chavanke (35), a resident of Nashik, and Tushar Dukre (25), a resident of Shirur in Pune district.
Pimpri-Chinchwad Police Commissioner Krishna Prakash said, “Chavanke is serving as an Army jawan of Havildar rank. Probe has revealed that Patil approached aspiring candidates with a promise of recruitment, Vaidya took possession of the original documents of the candidates and assured clearance in medical examination with the help of Chavanke, and Dukre’s involvement was in getting the requisite domicile certificates for the candidates.”
Police said that they have seized original certificates of HSC and SSC exams of 11 candidates along with seven fake appointment letters and four cell phones from Chavanke’s room.
Recently, Pune City police registered an FIR in connection to a paper leak in the exam process of the state health department. Sources said that investigators are probing a link between the suspects arrested by Pimpri-Chinchwad police and those involved in the health department paper leak.
An official said, “One of the striking aspects is the strong link of one suspect caught by Pimpri-Chinchwad police with at least three persons either arrested or wanted in the case of Army recruitment paper leak, which was unearthed in February. This suggests that these scamsters are part of one chain and all these cases need to probed in a coordinated manner and not separately.”
In a joint action in February, the Army and Pune police busted a racket in which exam papers of the soldier recruitment process were leaked. The case has seen nine arrests, including that of three serving Army officers — a Lieutenant Colonel and two Majors, two serving soldiers, three ex-servicemen and one civilian. In the backdrop of the probe into this particular paper leak, Army authorities had said that Southern Army Commander Lieutenant General JS Nain had instituted proactive measures to enable early completion of investigation.
Making of a scam: Desperate youths, role of insiders, nexus of touts-coaching centres
The joint probes by the police and military intelligence and state police entities till now point to striking commonalities with the past cases of malpractices in defence recruitment and other government job processes. Three factors have been found to be in common in all the cases: Desperate youth aspiring for government jobs and ready to pay money for them, role of insiders – either serving or retired, and a nexus of touts and coaching centre operators running these rackets. In the latest case, while Chavanke was an insider from the system, Patil acted as tout even as Vaidya and Dukre have had links to coaching centres.
Lt Gen DB Shekatkar (Retd), who led the Committee of Experts on Defence Reforms formed by the then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar in 2016, said, “Frauds in recruitment is a direct threat to national security. The systems of defence recruitment needs to be strengthened from within with the help of latest technology. The cases that are brought to light must be probed thoroughly to the logical end, possibly by a central agency like the CBI. The insiders — both serving and retired, must be expelled and stripped off their ranks for a lifetime.”
Investigators said while the way aspirants are cheated differs from racket to racket, there are similarities in the way they operate. A cop, who had probed a case in 2017, said, “In addition to the tradition of Army service in many villages of Maharashtra… youth from farmer families look at these jobs as steady employment opportunities… coaching classes in collusion with serving and retired defence personnel and local agents target these aspiring youths.”
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