Every day, for two to eight hours, they stood on the bustling platforms of New Delhi railway station and counted the arrivals and departures of trains, and the number of coaches in each train. At least 25 people from Tamil Nadu paid sums ranging from ₹2 lakh to ₹24 lakh for the right to carry out this task, believing that they were part of a “training exercise” that would lead to a coveted job in the Indian Railways.
Little did they know that they were a part of an employment scam, and that the “training” that they were undergoing was just an eyewash. The Delhi police on Tuesday said that the victims were collectively cheated of over ₹2.6 crore.
A case was registered by M. Subbusamy, a 78-year-old ex-serviceman from Tamil Nadu. He had taken several of his neighbours and family members from T.N. to Delhi on the pretext of employment, but realised he was also being cheated and complained to the police.
According to the police, the accused -- Sivaraman, Vikas Rana, Dubey, and Rahul Chaudhary -- enticed the men by promising them employment with the Railways before swindling them to the tune of lakhs of rupees.
Mr. Subbusamy alleged that he had met Mr. Sivaraman in Hyderabad last December, when he had claimed to be closely associated with several MPs and ministers in Delhi and thus could help youth get Railway jobs. The candidates paid the money to Mr. Subbusamy, who further transferred it to Vikas Rana, who posed as a deputy director in the Northern Railway office in Delhi, according to Senthil Kumar, 25, a victim from Madurai.
Most of the victims are graduates with backgrounds in engineering and technical education, he said, but were made to undergo a month-long training. They were contacted over a period of time and told to sit at different platforms of New Delhi Railway Station for two to eight hours.
Another victim was Ram Prasad, 26, a mechanical engineering graduate, who left his IT or Information Technology job in search of better employment.
“I was contacted by Subbusamy, this year in July, I gave several exams for Indian Railways but couldn’t get through, I thought I should take this one. In my village, I knew many people who got government jobs through such contacts, I trusted these people,” Mr. Prasad said.
Mr. Prasad, whose mother is a sick domestic worker, paid ₹10 lakh from the savings he had earned over the years. “All my savings are gone, I’m left with nothing,” he said.
Rajesh Kumar, a resident of Trichy and a sportsperson, was actively looking out for a stable government job, and so paid ₹12 lakh as the fees. “I was contacted in April regarding this job opportunity, when I was asked to pay, I was worried, but Subbusamy told me the money must be sent to senior railway officials so I couldn’t doubt them further,” he said.
“I was told that half the money was to be paid once the medical training at Connaught Place was over, and the other half when the training was done, the training where we were made to count the number of trains, the number of compartments, the arrival and departure time of each train, I kept thinking about my future while I was doing it, I thought, maybe it starts with something small,” he said.
When Mr. Kumar returned to his city, nobody picked up his calls. “It was after a few months when I realised all of it was a scam. I took a loan, I don’t know how I’ll repay it,” he said.
An FIR was registered in November with the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing on the basis of Mr. Subbusamy’s complaint under sections related to cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy, a senior police officer said, adding that an investigation is currently underway. He also said that technical surveillance is being carried out since this is the preliminary stage of investigation.
According to the victims, Mr. Rana met them outside to collect the money, and did not actually take them inside any Railway building. The documents given to them -- training orders, ID cards, training completion certificates and appointment letters, were found to have been forged, once cross-verified with Railway authorities, police said.
lyyadurai, 43, a resident of Thoothukudi, who also took a loan of ₹9 lakh is struggling to pay it back. “Subbusamy is my uncle, when he told me about the job and I couldn’t believe it, I joined the team in August and came back in October, while I was made to count these trains. I could sense the job role is different, but I couldn’t question it because it was a government job, and how can somebody scam so many people?” he said.
He said that all the supposed employees had been made to stay in a lodge near the railway station. “We were told that the trainers would directly contact us, we kept waiting. Until now, there has been no response and Subbusamy told us that we were cheated,” he said.
Yogesh Baweja, Additional Director General for Media and Communication in the Ministry of Railways, said that the Railway Board has been regularly issuing advisories and alerting the common people against such fraudulent practices.
“Youngsters should be very careful while dealing with such elements and they should always contact the Railway officials concerned in such situations, so that they get to the bottom of the truth as early as possible and save their hard-earned money,” Mr. Baweja said