Six years after the alleged multi-crore investment scam, in which hundreds of locals were duped by several persons enjoying political patronage of the ruling governments, the probe has finally been handed over to the Enforcement Directorate (ED).
ALL FILES SUBMITTED
I have submitted the case files along with the probe reports to the Enforcement Directorate for further investigation. Gurvinder Singh, SHO, Chheharta police station
The victims under the garb of a chain membership were promised handsome returns and their amounts were invested in fixed deposits, recurring deposit schemes besides investing in real estate and Punjabi movies.
In 2016, the Chheharta police had registered two FIRs (number 139 and 277) in July and November, respectively, on the charges of fraud, forgery and criminal conspiracy against nine persons. Following a preliminary probe, the police found that a large number of residents in the Chheharta area were defrauded of crores of rupees under different schemes.
The police had booked Ramesh Kumar, his wife Neelam, Jeevan Chug, Harsh Kumari, Sukhwinder Singh, Parveen Kumar Tandon, Jyoti, Pardeep Kumar Sen and Sandeep Kumar Seth in these two cases. The challans were presented in the court in 2018.
The incident came to light when the victim approached the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO), an NGO, seeking an intervention. After the probe, the PHRO found the scam was actually to the tune of hundreds of crores of rupees.
The PHRO submitted a report of over 3,600 pages to the then state DGP and sought action against the suspects. It urged him to form an SIT of state-level officers for further investigation and appropriate action.
Nevertheless, the DGP forwarded the report to the local police, which formed an SIT under a DCP-rank officer. A probe was also conducted by the economic offence wing here. However, these investigations continue to hang fire for long.
Sarabjit Singh Verka, PHRO member, alleged that the local police confined the investigation to just Rs 2 crore under the influence of their political bosses. He alleged that the entire scam was masterminded by a former SAD councillor, who was given a clean chit by an ACP-rank officer on whose probe the police had registered the second FIR (number 277).
“We have been urging the Punjab Police to hand over the probe to the ED as the case also involved money laundering. Gullible people were duped of their hard-earned money by the fraudsters. The scam was to the tune of Rs 400 crore and only the ED can probe the matter,” he added.
In November 2021, the PHRO had urged the then Chief Minister to hand over the probe to the ED.
THE 2016 CASE
Hundreds of Amritsar residents were allegedly duped by some investment firms in 2016. The City police had registered two separate cases in July and November 2016 against nine persons for fraud, forgery and criminal conspiracy.