HT follow-up: Father’s worry busted ‘protection money’ ring
Three youths arrested for allegedly extorting ‘protection money’ from school students had used the son of a property dealer from Panchkula to enter the circle of moneyed teenagers, it is learnt. It was through this boy, a Class-9 student of St John’s High School, that they got introduced to his classmates and beyond.chandigarh Updated: Jan 23, 2015 09:34 IST
Three youths arrested for allegedly extorting ‘protection money’ from school students had used the son of a property dealer from Panchkula to enter the circle of moneyed teenagers, it is learnt. It was through this boy, a Class-9 student of St John’s High School, that they got introduced to his classmates and beyond.
The racket started cracking on January 15 when the main accused, Rattan Lubana — a BA-1 student and Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) leader from DAV College, Sector 10 — repeatedly called the son of a high court lawyer on his birthday. As the boy was avoiding calls, his father picked up the phone. Lubana said someone else had been using his phone and hung up.
When Lubana called again, the lawyer picked up the phone and started quizzing him. Lubana this time said his son had borrowed some money from him and he wanted it back. “I could not believe that my son had borrowed money, so I asked him (Lubana) to come and meet me. He kept saying, ‘No, it’s OK, uncle!’,” the lawyer, TS Toor, told HT. When Toor asked his son, he told him that Lubana was not his classmate but was asking for money. Toor approached the principal of St John’s High School, Sector 26, Kavita Das, around 6pm the same day, and the next morning they approached a DIG of the Chandigarh police. The trio — Lubana, 22, son of a BJP leader; Amitoz Singh, 26, whose late father was a sub-inspector in the Punjab police; and Rajveer Singh, 24, son of a UT police constable — was arrested thereafter. All three are in judicial custody.
‘STUDENTS USED THEM’
The three gained entry into the circles of the Panchkula realtor’s son when he had taken them to the birthday party of a former St John’s student at Elante Mall on August 2 last year. There, they met students of elite schools like Vivek High, DPS and Strawberry Fields.
Thus began the arrangement wherein the student would call the youths to help them or thrash rivals in case of a fight.
One of the students said the “macho man”, Amitoz, used to take money as “loan” from the students and “spend it on girls and booze”. In the case of the Panchkula boy, Lubana had even befriended a driver employed for him. He used to take his car for “stunt rides”, and even used to call the driver if he could not get through to the boy directly, it is alleged.
A student seeking anonymity told HT that, in October, Amitoz and Lubana came near his house and made him give them his father’s sweatshirts, liquor and Rs 2,500. Having had enough, the boy said, he started avoiding their calls. Then they threatened him “with a gun” and demanded more money. Similarly, he alleged, that they had taken Rs 9,000 from another Class-9 student, the son of a businessman, and Rs 18,500 from another St John’s student. He recalled how Amitoz had fought with the Panchkula realtor’s son at the PCA stadium in SAS Nagar during an IPL cricket match. Tickets had been bought by the Panchkula boy, it is learnt.
HOW IT CAME TO LIGHT
Lawyer TS Toor, who brought the matter to light after his son allegedly got sucked into the extortion ring, appreciated St John’s High School principal becoming the complainant. He wondered why authorities at Vivek High School, Sector 38, who now claim to have known of the problem two weeks ago, did not come forward.
A former student leader, Lawrence Bishnoi, 20, facing various cases in Chandigarh and Punjab, was reportedly close to one of the accused, Amitoz, and had even thrashed some rivals of a businessman’s son. The boy had called Amitoz, who was not in town and sent Bishnoi instead, it is alleged.