6 held for robbing labourers from Gulf countries on pretext of providing Covid negative report

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New Delhi, Jul 12 (PTI) Six men have been arrested in central Delhi for allegedly robbing labourers coming from the Gulf countries on the pretext of providing a COVID-19 negative report for their train travel, police said on Monday.

The accused have been identified as Vijay Bhan Pandey (41), Deepak (40), Sanjeev Kumar (41), Harish Singh (35), Raju Shah (46) and Sunder (37), they said.

The accused told the victims that to travel by train, they need a fresh COVID-19 negative report and the one provided by the Delhi airport was not valid, police said.

According to police, they received information that some persons were indulged in robbing labourers coming from the Gulf countries.

Complainant Mohammad Wahi Vasi was working as a labourer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia since 2018. On Friday, he, along with four others, returned to India to visit his hometown in West Bengal. The flight landed at the Delhi airport, from where they reached the New Delhi Railway Station, a senior police officer said.

On the intervening night of Friday and Saturday at the railway station, they were approached by a man who told them that to travel by train, they require a COVID-19 negative report, however, Vasi said that they already have one provided by the Delhi airport, he said.

The accused told the victims that the report provided by the Delhi airport was not valid to travel from train and they will require a fresh one.

The victims were then taken to an office at Paharganj where they were informed that their reports will be ready by next day.

They were also told that their train to Kolkata will depart at 12:30 pm and they can collect their reports by 11:30 am from the office. Night accommodation at a hotel in Paharganj was also arranged for them, police said.

On Saturday at 11:30 am, the victims reached the office where six persons were present. They were shown their reports and asked to pay 897 Saudi Riyal. When they refused to pay, one of the accused took out a country-made pistol, while another person took out a knife. The complainants were made hostages and beaten up by the other four accused persons, the officer said.

The accused frisked the victims and robbed them of their 3,500 Saudi Riyal and Rs 17,970 along with other valuables, including watches, mobile phones. The accused later threatened the complainants of dire consequences and snatching of their passports, if they approach police, the officer said.

The accused called three coolies and the complainants were taken to the New Delhi Railway Station. The victims were then made to board the train, police said.

Meanwhile, police reached the station, traced the victims and asked them to deboard the train. The victims were then accompanied to the office at Paharganj, they said.

'On the instance of victims, Deepak, Sanjeev Kumar, Vijay Bhan Pandey and Harish Singh were apprehended. Later, Raju Shah and Sunder were also nabbed,' Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Monika Bhardwaj said.

It was revealed that the accused persons had robbed hundreds of people with similar modus operandi in the last one year.

Interrogation showed that they targeted those individuals who returned from the Gulf countries. The aggrieved persons are mostly from labour class, working in the Gulf, the DCP said.

Those victims who paid money were provided a fake negative Covid report, while those who refused, the accused persons used to hold them hostage, keep their passports and robbed them at gunpoint, Bhardwaj said.

One country-made pistol, two live cartridges, one knife, robbed, Saudi Riyal and Indian rupees were recovered from their possession, police added. PTI NIT KJ

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