Two arrested for charging Rs 5,000 for issuing passesUpdated: May 23, 2020 23:25 IST
Faridabad police on Saturday arrested two men for allegedly charging ₹5,000 from migrant workers for issuing movement passes through the Saral portal during the lockdown.
The suspects were identified as 25-year-old Vikash Kumar alias Vicky and 29-year-old Pankaj Singh, both residents of SGM Nagar in Faridabad, said police. Vicky, ran a money transfer service and Pankaj ran a Common Service Centre (CSC) there, they said.
The Saral portal is a Haryana government project that helps digitise certain services. When the lockdown was announced on March 24 to contain the spread of Covid-19, the government said people could apply for movement passes through the SARAL portal. The facility is available only for emergency cases and essential services.
Anil Kumar Yadav, assistant commissioner of police (crime), said that they were informed on Thursday evening that some people at the CSC were charging money for the services. “We formed a team and sent a decoy customer who only had an Aadhar card and driving license and wanted to go to Jaipur in Rajasthan and return. The man at the system asked for ₹5,000 and within minutes sent him e-pass on his WhatsApp,” he said.
“We caught the operator red-handed and recovered the ₹500 denomination notes given by the decoy customer. They had charged more than 200 migrants with the e-passes,” said Yadav.
Police said that when they questioned him, Vicky planned to earn money during lockdown as they were unable to bear their expenses and wanted to make their ends meet.
According to the Saral portal, merely getting a pass would not be enough to ensure travel. They would have to provide other documents to officials upon inspection.The applications too would have to be approved from the district administration.
Police said the suspects forged documents that indicated a medical emergency to ensure smooth passage for people at the borders and suspect the involvement of employees of district administration.
“Pankaj used to spread the word among migrant labourers who were waiting for the passes to return to their home town. People used to come and he would charge them with full guarantee of a valid pass,” said Yadav.
The suspects targeted stranded and uneducated people and told them that the centre was government approved and a branch of the Saral services from where they can get the passes within minutes.
A case under sections 385 (Putting person in fear of injury in order to commit extortion) , 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 420 (cheating) of Indian Penal Code and section 52 of disaster management act was registered against the suspects on Friday, said police.
Yashpal Yadav, deputy commissioner, Faridabad, said that there have been incidents where people have duped the migrant workers on the pretext of sending them to their hometowns. “We are spreading awareness that the e-passes are free of cost and anyone who is unable to operate a smartphone can visit the district administration office in Mini Secretariat and their issues will be resolved,” he said.