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Gurugram: Social media influencer held for human trafficking sent to 3-day police remand

'Accused Bobby Kataria has been taken on police remand for three days. All aspects of the investigation are being looked into by the police,' Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) crime Varun Dahiya said.
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 20:46 IST
Last Updated : 28 May 2024, 20:46 IST

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Gurugram: Controversial social media influencer Balwant Kataria alias Bobby Kataria, who was arrested for alleged human trafficking and fraud on Monday, was sent to three-day police remand by a city court, police said on Tuesday.

A total of Rs 20 lakh in cash, some documents and four mobile phones were also recovered from his possession, they said.

"Accused Bobby Kataria has been taken on police remand for three days. All aspects of the investigation are being looked into by the police," Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) crime Varun Dahiya said.

Kataria has been involved in a big nexus of the human traffickers since last year and may have links with an international gang, the police said.

Preliminary investigation revealed that several unemployed youths were cheated by Kataria, who was running his illegal business along with a female friend, they said.

Two men had approached Gurugram police claiming that Kataria had defrauded them of more than Rs 4 lakh in the guise of getting them employed abroad.

According to the complaint filed by Arun Kumar, a native of Fatehpur, and Manish Tomar, a resident of Dholana in Uttar Pradesh, they came across an advertisement on Instagram offering an opportunity to work abroad.

The ad was posted from the official Instagram ID and YouTube channel of Kataria. Upon contacting the influencer, they were asked to meet him in his office at a Gurugram mall.

"I met Bobby Kataria on February 1 in his office and he gave me assurance of getting a job in the UAE after taking Rs 2,000 as a registration charge. I then transferred Rs 1.5 lakh to his account and got a ticket for Vientiane (capital of Laos)," Kumar had told the police.

"Similarly, my friend Manish Tomar was also assured of getting a job in Singapore. Kataria charged Rs 2.59 lakh from Tomar and he too got a ticket to Vientiane and boarded the flight on March 28," Kumar had said.

When we landed at the airport in Vientiane, we met a person named Abhi who introduced himself as a friend of Kataria. A Pakistani man then dropped us at a hotel, he had said.

"The next day, we were taken to an anonymous Chinese company, where we were thrashed and our passports were taken away. We were forced to commit cyber fraud targeting US citizens. Around 150 Indians, including women, had been brought there through human trafficking and were being held hostage. On the third day, we managed to escape and approached the Indian Embassy. After returning, we asked Kataria to return our money, but he refused," the complainant had said.

Following the complaint, an FIR was registered against Kataria and others under Sections 323 (causing hurt), 342 (wrongful confinement), 506 (criminal intimidation), 420 (cheating), 364 (abduction), 370 (buying and disposing of any person as a slave), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code and section 10/24 of the Immigration Act.

Kataria was arrested from his office, located in Conscient-One mall, sector 109 here.

Meanwhile, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday conducted searches at multiple locations across six states/UTs in joint operations with local police in a case of human trafficking involving forced cyber crimes, which led to the arrest of five accused persons.

Those arrested included Manish Hingu of Vadodara, Pahlad Singh of Gopalganj, Nabialam Rai of south-west Delhi, Sartaj Singh of Chandigarh, while on a tip off of the NIA, the Gurugram police had arrested Kataria, the police said.

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Published 28 May 2024, 20:46 IST

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