A man, arrested by the Punjab vigilance department for allegedly posing as the Patiala superintendent of police (SP) (vigilance) and extorting money from people, was remanded in one-day police custody here on Thursday.
Gurdaspur resident Rahul Kumar was arrested from Sector 22, Chandigarh, on Wednesday evening for allegedly trying to extort Rs. 10,000 from a block development panchayat officer (BDPO) by threatening to register a police case against him if he did not pay the money.
The BDPO, Jatinder Singh, who is posted at Sirhind complained to the vigilance police station in SAS Nagar, following which the accused was arrested. In his complaint, Jatinder alleged that Rahul had claimed to be Patiala SP (vigilance) Thakur Harbhajan Singh Teja.
A well-placed source in the vigilance department said Rahul had duped several people by posing as a vigilance officer. “He used to operate from hotels where he used to stay after identifying his victims,” the source said.
The source said that Rahul used to target departments in which the possibility of corruption was high. “He used to call up officials of these departments and threaten them by saying that he was from the vigilance department. He used to demand money for not registering a case,” the source said. The accused then used to direct victims to deposit money in his Allahabad Bank account.
“He had accounts in Gurdaspur and Satna in Madhya Pradesh. The vigilance department had 20 days ago got the Satna branch account of the accused freezed,” the source added.
Government officials were not the only targets. After checking out matrimonial advertisements, Rahul used to target women by posing as a prospective groom. Once the relationship matured, he would seek financial help from them on the pretext of helping his ailing relatives, the source said. Vigilance has received two such complaints - one of the girls is from Malerkotla, while the other is employed with the excise department in Himachal Pradesh.
Rahul had earlier assumed the fictitious name of SP KK Kaushal. Later he changed his name to Thakur Harbhajan Singh Teja. Rahul, as per the sources in vigilance, is the son of a former MLA. But the family has disowned him. He is married and has a 4-year-old son.