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Cash for jobs: The big con

Ranjeet Jamwal | Chandigarh |

An applicant for a clerical job in Haryana Roadways, Rajesh Singh, (name changed) didn’t know how to react when he received a call on his cell phone asking if he wanted to guarantee his selection in the written examination and interview to be conducted by the Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC).

A surprised Singh queried his caller further only to be told that he knew a HSSC employee  ~ now identified as Anil Kumar working as an assistant in the commission ~ who could help him guarantee his selection for the clerk’s post but for a price ~ Rs 4 lakh.

Desperate for a government job, Singh, a resident of Rohtak, apparently fell for the offer by making the payment to Kumar after mortgaging his family’s jewellery.

When the results were declared by HSSC, Singh was selected for the post of clerk but he had another reason to feel surprised. He was among the toppers in the written exam and needed minimum marks in the interview for getting selected to the job.

As a cash-for-job scam is unravelling in Haryana, it is clear from the investigations so far that candidates who were in the merit list were fooled into paying bribes for the job they were anyway likely to get on the basis of their performance.

Those behind the racket cashed in on the perception that merit hardly mattered and money needed to be paid for a government job.

Suspects running the racket followed a simple modus operandi.  Some employees posted in HSSC office would leak the data of candidates who were already in the merit list prepared by the commission and just required pass marks in the interview.

Other members of the gang, including government employees and brokers, then used to call such candidates and ask them for Rs 2 lakh to Rs 8 lakh for a guaranteed selection in the interview for the concerned post.

Ever since the flying squad of the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has busted the gang and arrested employees of HSSC and other departments along with their brokers for running a job-for-cash racket, at least three such candidates have come forward and become witnesses against the suspects.

An official spokesman said the CM had received several complaints regarding some employees running this cash-for-job racket and ordered the Flying Squad to investigate the matter and catch the culprits.

Following this, such employees and their brokers were identified and trapped after technical surveillance by the Flying Squad. They were found exchanging confidential details and interacting with candidates for money involved in the deal, the spokesman said.

The Flying Squad has arrested some employees of the HSSC and other departments. They include superintendent Subhash Parashar, assistants, Rohtash Sharma, Sukhwinder Singh and Anil Sharma, Puneet Saini of IT Cell (contractual employee), a clerk Dharmender, Balwan Singh and an assistant, Surender Kumar.

The Special Investigation team (SIT), constituted to probe the case, is in the process of summoning at least  30 more government officials for questioning after their names cropped up during investigation.

The superintendent of police, CM flying squad, Dheeraj Setia, said from the interrogation of the accused so far, it appears that the accused only bluffed the candidates who had scored good marks by claiming sources in the selection board for a guaranteed job. He said there was no information about involvement of any HSSC member in the racket.

The Opposition Indian National Lok Dal (ILND) and Congress have, however, stepped up their attack on the BJP government over the racket and demanded dissolving the HSSC and an in-depth probe into the matter.

Terming it the “biggest ever” scam in the history of Haryana, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said the CM should disband the commission and order an inquiry by two sitting judges of Punjab and Haryana High Court.

“Multiple layers of the sinister jobs recruitment and bribery scams are yet to be unveiled, and the real culprits and kingpins are escaping the clutches of law,” he said.

The leader of the Opposition in Haryana Assembly, Abhay Singh Chautala, said only the small fish were being arrested in the case. “To catch the real culprits, the case should be handed over to the CBI,” he said while accusing the CM of shielding the HSSC chairman, Bharat Bhushan Bharti.

CM Khattar, however, said that corruption will not be tolerated in any office of any department of the state government. “Even if I am found involved in corruption, I too should not be spared,” he said while referring to the cash-for-job racket.

“Investigations are being made to see how far and deep the tentacles of the racket had spread. Anybody found guilty, small or big, will not be spared,” Khattar added.

On his part, HSSC chairman Bharti maintains that the commission’s system is 100 per cent fool-proof and all selections of about 24,000 candidates till date have been on the basis of merit. believed to run into thousands.