The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Army recruitment gangs thrive in desert

Jaipur, Nov. 11: Touts in Rajasthan have found another source of easy money: recruitment in the army and the Border Security Force. Organised gangs operating in the state charge anywhere between Rs 60,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh to recruit youths into the army and the BSF.

Though the police have recently nabbed 40 such recruiters, the authorities believe it is only the tip of the iceberg.

The existence of such gangs have been identified in three districts so far following the recent arrests, according to state home minister Gulab Singh Shaktawat.

It all began when some youths were not recruited despite paying the touts. Complaints of large-scale irregularities were received in the districts of Jodhpur, Bharatpur and Karauli.

During police interrogation, the arrested touts confessed taking money from youths in Nasirabad, Govindgarh, Jhunjhunu, Alwar, Sikar, and Nagaur.

Director general of police Shantanu Kumar claims that the state police exposed the racket in September during recruitment in Karauli and are probing the role of Colonel Sachdeva of the army in this connection.

The investigating officers do not rule out the possibility of the involvement of certain army officers.

The Madan Seth Chirania gang, which was busted in September, is believed to have its network spread throughout the state. The police have so far identified about 40 agents.

The gang starts camping in a particular area about a fortnight in advance of the army recruitment process.

Madan, himself a former soldier, began this lucrative business some 10 years ago and is believed to have made crores of rupees since then. His son, Manoj, assists him in the business and was arrested in Jaisalmer during army recruitment but he managed to escape from the police lock-up.

Another gang is headed by Dilip Sarpanch, who has touts working for him in various districts.

His assistants include his driver, Anil Kumar. Two of his touts were arrested in September while the army recruitment process was going on in Karauli district.

However, two of the prosecution’s witnesses have turned hostile and filed affidavits in court against the local police. This has obviously weakened the police case despite a recorded version under Section 164 of the CrPC.

Similarly, a gang headed by Arjun Ram of Nagaur has its network in the Jodhpur region and specialises in recruitment into the army and the BSF. This gang charges Rs 60,000 per recruitment.

The CBI busted this gang recently and arrested red-handed three of its members — Arjun Ram, Swaroop Singh and Dharmraj — while receiving the first instalment of the money.

Another gang, headed by Arjun Singh and active in the Bharatpur region, charges Rs 1.5 lakh for every recruitment. The gang headed by Balwant Singh Yadav of Alwar is also considered very strong. It was found operating during the army recruitment in July-August this year.

Following interrogation of those arrested by the police, state home department officials feel that the police alone may not be able to eliminate all such gangs operating in Rajasthan unless the army authorities move in and cooperate with the police in the clean-up operations.

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