Around 21 accused have been arrested and remanded to police custody; Army's Southern Command is also conducting its own investigation
Those arrested in the scam, seen with Thane Crime Branch officials
The Thane Crime Branch raided three different places in Nagpur, Goa and Pune, and busted the army recruitment racket. Around 21 accused were arrested and produced in Thane court, and remanded to police custody till March 4. Three more accused are involved in the racket that includes two armymen and a civilian, who are yet to be arrested. Around 350 aspirants were asked to be present whenever required.
The racket was busted after Ajay Ghosalkar, Assistant PI, and Vijay Upale, police sub-inspector with the Anti-Narcotics Cell of Thane Crime Branch, were approached by the owner of an Army coaching classes in Thane. The owner informed them that a few agents were luring aspirants saying they will pass, if they can pay for it.
The information was given to Bharat Shelke, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Thane Crime Branch. "Our sources shared with us some videos related to the scam and we were shocked. We had decide in a day and accordingly we formed three teams and left for Nagpur, Goa and Pune on February 24," said Parag Manare, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Thane crime branch.
Manare added that it was found that the aspirants pay around R4 lakh. "Every state has its own army recruitment exams, so if a Mumbaikar is not eligible for it, the agents prepared a fake domicile certificate with an address either from Nagpur, or Pune, or Goa.
They used to keep the original documents of the aspirants with them. After making the certificates, they also helped them with the exams. After the medical test is done and the aspirant is selected, he needs the original documents. Then the agents demanded cash again. The candidate then had to pay," added Manare.
"We were informed that halls and lodges were made available for the aspirants, where the accused received the question papers on his phone's WhatsApp. He would explain them the answers and within three hours, they would prepare for the exams," added an official.
Army to probe too
Parambir Singh, CP, Thane said, "It was a huge racket that we busted. We suspect it might have been going on from past few years and have also informed the Army."
A PRO from a Nagpur Army unit said he cannot comment on the issue. "We are aware of the raids and there will be re-exams soon. At the same time the inquiry will be conducted and investigation report will be released by the head quarters based in Delhi."
An internal inquiry is being conducted by the Southern command in Pune.
A case has been registered at Kalwa police station under relevant sections.
Nine arrested in Nagpur
The Nagpur raid was headed by Nitin Thakre, Senior PI, Thane Crime Branch unit 1, who along with his team members, raided Maurya Bhuwan. Around six people were arrested from the spot and around 222 candidates' handwritten question papers were found. During the raid the police found Santosh Shinde (32), a resident of Satara on the ground floor. Shinde claimed that he was running a army-coaching academy in Phaltan. He claimed that Ravi Kumar, a clerk working with the Army Recruitment Department, Nagpur, sent the question paper on his mobile through WhatsApp.
Nine arrested in Pune
The Pune raid was conducted by Ravindra Dohipode, Senior PI, Thane Crime Branch, who conducted the raid with his team at Sanskruti Hall. There, they found 79 aspirants and 9 people helping them in the process. Dhanaji Jadhav from Satara is the director of Raje Chattrapati Academy. Those arrested include Sandeep Shitole (38), an ex-army official, and Mahendra Sonawane (31) a serving army man.
Three arrested in Goa
The Goa raid was conducted by Sanjay Sable, Senior PI, Ulhasnagar. Sable and his team raided Sandhya Bar and Restaurant. A total of 49 aspirants were found there with the papers. Arrested includes Ranjit Jadhav (26), a resident of Satara and a BSF constable, Ganesh Narsale (22) of Satara, and Vaibhav Wadkar, Sangli, who were monitoring the students.