Gangsters running extortion racket from inside Central Jail

Sukhmeet Bhasin

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 15

An extortion racket has been busted which was being run by gangsters from inside the Bathinda Jail at Gobindpura.

As per information, two gangsters Harvinder Bhinda and Amritpal Singh, who were arrested during the police encounter at Gulabgarh village in the district in 2017 along with their two associates Jagsir Singh and Gurwinder Singh, had called Rajasthan-based businessman Rajat Sidana on the phone from inside the jail and demanded Rs 25 lakh. They had also threatened to kill him if he failed to do so.

On getting information from the Rajasthan police, the Bathinda police, headed by the DSP (City)along with CIA and Cantt police station teams, had raided the jail on Saturday and conducted through checking, during which mobile phone, battery and a SIM card was recovered from the accused.

The police have registered a case against accused Harvinder Singh of Alamgarh, Jagsir Singh of Amarpura Basti, Amritpal Singh of Abohar and Gurwinder Singh of Kamalwala village under Sections 384 and 188 of the IPC and Section 52 of the Jail Manual Act at the Cantt police station. A case of demanding extortion money has been registered at the Sri Ganganagar police station in Rajasthan.

It is pertinent to mention that many mobile phones have been seized from jail inmates in the recent past, which has raised a question mark over the functioning of the jail department.

Sources said police officials were aware of the presence of mobile phones in the jail. The authorities tapped phone calls of inmates to get important information. However, inmates have now started making use of WhatsApp calls, which is untraceable.

In the past two years, more than 80 mobile phones with SIM cards were seized from different barracks of the jail and cases registered at the Nathana and Cantt police stations.

The sources in the Central Jail said in many cases, relatives of prisoners provided mobile phones to inmates during their hearing in the court.

It is learnt that cell phones helped criminals threaten witnesses, besides making plans to escape from the jail. Sometimes, prisoners extort money while staying in the jail. This was exposed in the killing of gangster Rocky, when gangsters lodged in various jails across the state had uploaded their status over the murder on their Facebook accounts.

On the other hand, the project to fit a jammer at the Central Jail to control the usage of mobile phones by inmates is still remain on paper due to lack of funds. About Rs 4 crore was earmarked to provide modern communication devices to the jail staff in 2012.

RELATED Extortion racket: Three more IAS officers under scanner