“Criminals fake calls to politicians, businessmen on behalf of Bishnoi, Brar gangs”
They say make hay while the sun is shining. This rings true in Punjab, albeit in a different sense of the word. Cybercriminals and other miscreants are using the name of feared gangsters to launch extortion calls on politicians and prominent businessmen in Punjab as fear psychosis has gripped the state, following the murder by singer-rapper Sidhu Moosewala on May 29.
In about two dozen complaints filed by politicians and businessmen in Punjab after Moosewala’s murder, Punjab police investigations revealed that cyber criminals and miscreants had attempted to use the name of gangsters such as Lawrence Bishnoi and his Canadian associate Goldy Brar for at least half of the total number of cases.
Last month, Ludhiana police arrested two Chhattisgarh residents – Shakti Singh and Afzal Abdullah. The Ludhiana police cyber cell also identified no less than 25 bank accounts used to extort money. From the details of just five accounts, the police traced a total transaction of over Rs 1 crore, recovering Rs 11.76 lakh. The police are trying to obtain details of the transactions carried out on 20 other accounts.
Explaining the modus operandi, Ludhiana Police Commissioner Kaustubh Sharma said Shakti Singh set up a garment manufacturing unit in Faridabad, which suffered losses during the lockdown, and he had to sell the machinery. In the meantime, he met Bihar resident Raja Babu at a wedding ceremony in Siwan, Bihar. Sharma said investigations revealed that Raja Babu, who had contested municipal elections and had digital footprints on social media platforms, struck a deal with Shakti to open bank accounts in the name of various people – where Rs 15 000 would be paid to the people whose details would be used to open the bank account and Rs 10,000 per such account goes to Shakti on the condition that the ATMs and other details were handed over to Raja Babu.
Police said while they arrested Shakti and his accomplice Abdullah in conjunction with Delhi Police Special Cell and Chhattisgarh Police, at least two other defendants, Raja and suspected ringleader Afzar-Ur , were wanted in the case where the defendant posed as members of Lawrence. Bishnoi gang to make extortion calls.
According to Ludhiana police, the accused also used to send videos of guns and cartridge loading to magazines to instill fear of death in victims.
Gangster names were also used to make extortion calls to prominent politicians after the Sidhu Moosewala murder case. Amritsar Police filed separate FIRs after Shiromani’s former MP Amarpal Singh Bonny Ajnala Akali Dal and Congress Leader and former Deputy Chief Minister OP Soni approached police alleging extortion calls. Amritsar Deputy Deputy Commissioner of Police, II Prabhjot Singh Virk, however, said police investigations revealed that the ransom calls were made by cyber criminals. “Based on forensic investigation, it has come to light that two defendants from Jalandhar district made calls disguised as associates of Lawrence Bishnoi’s assistant, demanding Rs 2.5 lakh from Soni and Rs 5 lakh from Bonny. ” Virk said the two were arrested in both cases and further investigations are ongoing.
A senior police officer stationed in Amritsar corroborated that during his interrogation during which he was remanded in custody, Bishnoi denied that any of his associates could make ransom calls for “such a meager amount “.
Notably, for more than a month, Bishnoi, who is facing multiple cases in the state, has been swinging between different police districts after being brought from Tihar jail into pre-trial detention by Punjab police as part of the Moosewala murder case.
Faridkot police had also busted a fake mod using the Davinder Bambiha gang as it tried to extort money from wealthy people, even though it had no connection to the rival Bambiha gang. of the Bishnoi gang.
Apart from these “fake” extortion calls, the Punjab Police also deal with fraudulent callers seeking money from Punjab residents, while pretending to be their relatives.
Although there were bogus extortion calls in almost half of the complaints, the Punjab police are also investigating ‘genuine extortion’ calls. On June 30, Ludhiana police claimed to have busted an extortion racket run by Canadian mobster Sukha Duneke and mobster Arshdeep housed in Ferozepur prison.
Ludhiana Police said they arrested seven defendants named Lakhvir Singh alias Vicky from Rola village in Samrala, Lovepreet Singh alias Jaido from Mehal Khurd village in Barnala, Harvinder Singh alias Sunny from Raikot road in Barnala, Satnam Singh alias Satti from the Shekha Barnala road, Dilpreet Singh alias Peeta Sarpanch and Manpreet Singh alias Gola, both from Sahnewal to Ludhiana.
Police said the defendants were detained after trying to extort 3 crore rupees from a businessman in the city.