Bribe your way to fake passports

Lata Jain

A special branch constable was held in Hyderabad for having cleared the passport applications of the Myanamar nationals who were arrested recently in the old city. The police took Basheer into custody. He revealed the identity of Shail saleem a home guard at passport verification cell in saidabad and a passport agent Ahsan zia Ansari from Misrigunj. All three have been arrested.

Shamefully, while the innocent common man has to run from pillar to post for mandatory documents that range from the age-old ration card to the more recent Aadhar Card to avail benefits assured by the State, criminals and gangsters easily subvert the same procedure to their benefit and get away with it! Innocent citizen goes on leave, children skip classes and heavy kick backs are paid to get a rightful and justified passport.

The ease with which fake documents – particularly passports –can be acquired is the reason why gangsters manage to dodge the law and move beyond borders freely. Indian agencies shamelessly claim that Dawood Ibrahim has at least 20 fake passports of which eight were issued in Mumbai, Chhota Rajan has eight while Chhota Shakeel is said to have six. Apart from them, Tiger Memon, Ayub Memon, Ali Moosa and Pathan Izazare are all said to have bogus Indian and Pakistani passports.

While the claims in themselves look like the regulatory pitch to dilute the gross failure of the law in apprehending the criminals, it must be noted that the industry of producing fake documents thrives under the nose of law-enforcers, often with their support. The patronage of these officers is a must to this fraud. The arrest of a constable or a small timer in law enforcing departments closes the case file. There are bigger players to these frauds who earn in big numbers pushing the security of a nation at peril.

Hyderabad seems to have become the latest “adda” for these frauds. When asked, the authorities are usually swift to detail the operation of the illegal passports, in which an original photograph is cut out of a stolen passport and replaced with that of the criminal. But what most gangsters do is get genuine passports with the help of fake documents. All one needs to do is bribe a few officials through an agent.

The business is thriving in multiples of six digits. Travel agents, paid huge sums of money for creating the documents, are known to bribe officials who then overlook the verification procedure to process the document s.

Lawyers maintain, submitting fake documents along with passport applications in order to obtain a passport is an offence under the Passport Act, 1967 and CrPC for which stringent action could be taken. The reach of the fake documents spread across the nation, and the ease with which they can be procured bears testimony to the impotence of the system that provides a perfect breeding ground for criminals. The criminals know to close the loose ends and loop holes in the system.

Nobody can put a full stop to the crime unless there is a corresponding intention on the part of the enforcer to do so and the bigger players who are hidden in shadow of these small timers need to be exposed.

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