The Patiala police on Saturday nabbed a person who has allegedly defrauded several people across Malwa by posing as a journalist. The frauds committed by Satnam Singh – who went by the name Harpal Singh Bhullar in the journalistic circles of Patiala for years – add up to Rs 2 crore, all on the false pretexts of providing jobs and sealing land deals.
A proclaimed offender in three cases and booked in several matters in Sunam, Bathinda, Sangrur and Patiala districts, he is wanted in at least 13 cases. “Our teams were on his trail for two months, and finally nabbed him from a house in Urban Estate area, where he was living on rent,” said Patiala City-2 deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Harpal Singh.
In an identity card recovered from him, he claimed to be the state head of a Punjabi channel headquartered in Patiala. “The name on the card is Sukhdeep Singh Brar and the address is of Jalandhar. The card has the logo of Chardi Kalan Time TV,” said the DSP, “But this man is actually a resident of Dhapali village in Rampura Phul subdivision of Bathinda district, and his name is Satnam Singh.”
Sources told HT that Satnam, alias Harpal, in fact used to work in Patiala in the same news channel, and for many years termed himself Bureau Chief of the channel. He was considered close to the police circles. Ironically, a policewoman is among his victims.
LAVISH LIFE, AND THE TRAPPINGS
Besides 14 mobile SIM cards, three cars – a Toyota Innova, an Opel Astra and a Tata Indigo – have been recovered from the “fraud” who lived a lavish life, the police told HT.
The “scribe” did not even spare the Crime Investigating Agency (CIA) staff of the Patiala police and duped a woman personnel of more than Rs 4 lakh on the pretext of providing a job to her daughter.
“He is an expert at establishing close relationships with people by showing his fake identity of a mediaperson,” the DSP said. The police also recovered from ‘Satpal’ a driving licence, residential proofs, registration certificates of vehicles and other identity cards, all carrying different names and addresses.
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Urban Estate police station house officer (SHO) Davinder Attari said the degree of fraud may increase manifold. “Since the news of the arrest, a large number of people are coming to us with complaints of fraud,” he said. The police have registered a case under sections 420, 467, 468,471 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code against Satpal, alias Harpal.
WE SACKED HIM TWO YEARS AGO: CHANNEL
When HT contacted Jagjit Singh Dardi, chief editor of the Chardi Kala Time TV group, he denied any current affiliation with “the man arrested by the police.” “Yes, he was working with us, using the name Harpal Singh Bhullar, around two years ago. But we sacked him after a complaint,” Dardi added.