Punjab police busts ‘goonda tax’ racket; 14 arrested - Hindustan Times

Punjab police busts ‘goonda tax’ racket; 14 arrested

By, Jalandhar
Mar 30, 2022 12:08 AM IST

Punjab Police said the 14 arrested were allegedly extorting money from truck drivers transporting sand as ‘goonda tax’

: The Hoshiarpur police on Tuesday claimed to have busted a ‘goonda tax’ racket with the arrest of 14 people and seized over 1 crore from them, allegedly extorted from truck drivers carrying sand and gravel.

Punjab police busts ‘goonda tax’ racket; 14 arrested (HT)
Punjab police busts ‘goonda tax’ racket; 14 arrested (HT)

Besides cash, police have also seized four Mohindra Bolero cars, computers, receipts and 10 mobile phones.

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Police said that they received a tip-off that the accused, who were working in a private firm, were forcibly collecting money from sand tippers and trucks.

Hoshiarpur senior superintendent of police Dhruman H. Nimbale said that the accused were allegedly extorting money from truck drivers transporting the sand and gravel by posing as mining officials.

They have formed 7 flying squad teams for forcible collection from trucks and were active in Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and Ropar district of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh too.

“We have been tracing the roots of their mastermind behind the racket and will be nabbed soon,” added Nimbale.

The collection of goonda tax from sand or construction material trucks by politically backed henchmen is a key issue being raised by political parties in the state in the past decade.

The accused have been identified as Rajiv Kumar of Hoshiarpur, Kulwinder Singh and Navjinder Singh of Uttar Pradesh, Vishnu Mishra of Ludhiana, Malkiat Singh and Kulwinder Singh of Ropar, Arun Singh of Himachal Pradesh, Nirvair of Tarn Taran, Guru Khajuria of Jammu, Jagdeep Singh of Uttrakhand and Kalaish, Krishan Dubey and Vishnu from Rajasthan.

A case has been registered under section 384 (punishment for extortion) and 120-b (criminal conspiracy) at Hajipur police station, against Surinder, Rajeev, Gourav and Jagdeep Singh.

Police said that Rajiv Kumar of Hoshiarpur was arrested following his interrogation, Kulwinder and Navjinder were also held and incriminated documents and three cars were seized from their possession.

Later, police arrested the rest of other accused and seized 1 crore 65 thousand during a search at their premises in Anmol Nagar in Hoshiarpur district.

A senior police official privy to the development revealed that police have been probing their links with a Noida-based private firm where there have been biggest cash seizures by the Punjab police in the recent years in connection with the illegal sand mafia and goonda tax.

The official further revealed that they used to charge upto 1000 from the trucks carrying legal sand (having proper documentation) whereas they used to collect 2000 to 10000 from the trucks carrying illegal sand in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh through their illegal flying squads.

Another police official said that they will also involve the mining department officials in the matter if any. In Aug 2020, Punjab and Haryana high court had also ordered a CBI probe into alleged collection of ‘goonda tax’ in Rupnagar district of Punjab from truck drivers.

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    A staff correspondent, based in Jalandhar covers Doaba Region of Punjab. Reports about Punjab Police, Enforcement Directorate, politics, corruption, legal, rural areas, socio-economic issues and technical education besides having specialisation in the investigative stories.

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