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Passport scam: Security agencies on high alert

An investigation into a scam involving the procurement of passports using fake documents is all set to open a Pandora’s box. Going by the details that have emerged till now, the racket may well land many officials in police, passport office, health and post departments in trouble. Also, fearing that these passports may be used by anti-social elements to flee the country, the security agencies have been put on high alert.

Though the investigation is still underway, as many as 226 passports have identified as having being issued on fake addresses and identities. After registering a criminal case against seven persons, including three cops, a superintendent of regional passport office at Chandigarh, a postman, a travel agent and an employee in civil surgeon's office, the Moga police have approached the regional passport authorities for further probe. During the two-month police investigation, it came to light how some employees in various government departments had been minting money by forging the documents required to acquire a passport.

‘‘Some of the people who got the passport with the help of the accused were facing criminal cases,'' said Moga district police chief Ashok Batth. The probe exposed the modus operandi used by police constables Jaswinder Singh, Ranjit Singh and Gurdial Singh, posted at Moga police passport branch, who - in league with Didar Singh, a superintendent in regional passport office, Chandigarh - prepared passports for people who were facing difficulty in getting them due to various legalities.

The three cops roped in an employee of the civil surgeon's office for preparing fake birth certificates. A house was taken on rent for providing the address of all applicants and the postman on duty was bribed against raising any objection. Whenever any person with a dubious past wanted to get a passport, a travel agent would reportedly contact him, which was followed by the entire process.

"Not only the police, but even officials of CID branch conduct an independent enquiry to verify the credentials of the applicant. Thus, we are trying to find out about the officer from the CID who gave clearances to these passports," said Batth.



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