The Gautam Buddha Nagar Police seem to have discovered what appears to be a Chinese spying network operating out of a village in the area. On Tuesday 14th June 2022, Noida Police raided a property in Gharbara village, which was revealed to be a Chinese-only club. Almost 20 Chinese nationals residing unlawfully in India utilized this club as a safe haven and gathering place. Apart from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and West Bengal, the connections of this ring stretch far into India’s North-East as well.
Arrest on Indo Nepal border revealed the safe haven in Noida
According to a report by Firstpost, the raid was carried out in accordance with information from the Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB), which had apprehended two Chinese nationals on the India-Nepal border on Saturday 11th June 2022. Upon questioning, it was discovered that the two were residing with acquaintances in a village in the Noida suburbs. Following this, the Gautam Budh Nagar police raided a hotel in Gurugram where Chinese national Xue Fei (36) aka Kelay-a resident of Xinji, Hebei, and Petekhrinuo (22), a native of Kohima, Nagaland was arrested after they were not found at their home in Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida.
According to the authorities, 15 to 20 Chinese nationals fled as soon as they heard about the police operation, but six women were detained. Meenakshi Katayayan, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Greater Noida) said, “As per our information, there were at least 15 to 20 Chinese nationals at the bar at the time of the raid. However, by the time officials reached the spot, they had fled, leaving behind only six women.” According to sources, the prospect of a honey-trap operation running out of the club cannot be ruled out and is being probed.
The arrested Chinese were living illegally in India with fake Indian passport
The acquisition of a photocopy of Fei’s Indian passport sent the cops into a frenzy. Fei’s Chinese passport’s Indian visa had expired in 2019, and he had been residing in India unlawfully since then, according to officials. Fei’s Indian passport was granted by the Kolkata regional passport office using the bogus name ‘Kelay’. The Noida Police informed their West Bengal counterparts since this Chinese national’s Indian passport was granted to him at a Darjeeling address.
DCP Meenakshi Katayayan said, “This is the main cause of concern for investigating agencies as to how the Chinese national was issued an Indian passport from Kolkata. We have roped in other agencies and experts in Chinese matters to interrogate the arrested accused. That this English-speaking Chinese national is staying in for the past three years in India with an Indian passport under a fake name is a major cause of concern for the internal and international security of the country. We have informed the Ministry of External Affairs about the developments as well.”
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has already been notified to examine the situation. Aside from the passport copy, the police seized machinery and equipment used in forging documents like Aadhaar and voter ID. Furthermore, multiple blank smartcards were recovered. The China bar is housed in a three-story property owned by a Gharbara village resident and rented out for five years.
There was a suspicion three months back
DCP Meenakshi Katayayan said, “A rent agreement between the owner and four people, including the arrested Chinese national and three Indians, was made in 2021 for the next five years. The bar had been running for the last year. We are currently on the lookout for the three business partners who are mentioned in the agreement.”
She added, “An inspection of the facility showed that it was designed in Chinese style. Its bar and restaurant had items mentioned in Chinese script with no mention of Hindi or English anywhere. It is suspected that illegal activities like drug abuse were also being carried out there though it is a matter of investigation.”
She further said, “Reports that the illegal bar is running had surfaced around three months back and excise officials and local police had visited the place for inspection. At the time, any information regarding the fact that it was being run by a Chinese national impersonating an Indian or that the bar/club is a safe house for Chinese nationals was not revealed to the police. An occasional liquor license was recently procured from June 6 to 12 by the owners. Once we get hold of the Indian accomplices of the arrested accused, things will be clearer.”
CCTV footage may reveal more details further
A currency-note counting machine has also been recovered from this building. The investigation teams are therefore checking for a fake currency racket operating via the Nepal route. The recovery of the machine is pointing towards the huge cash that used to be transacted in the club. For the last three days, police were also looking for the DVR (Digital Video Recording) of the CCTVs installed nearby. The police have now got the DVR and an expert is called on to recover the data from the same.
The Indians involved in the Chinese club
The police are searching for the jailed Chinese national’s three Indian associates. One of them is Ravi Natwarlal. Fei has consistently mentioned him as one of the Indians who signed the leasing deal for the club’s premises. The BMW that Fei was driving when he was apprehended outside one of Gurugram’s five-star hotels is also registered in the name of Ravi’s firm, which is situated in Panipat, Haryana.
A police official said, “This person’s name has been mentioned at several points and he seems to be the point of contact for the accused and others in India. We are contacting local police, but he seems to be absconding and his phone is switched off.”
A shell company was registered in Kanpur to route the money
The club ‘Tianshang Renjian’ (which means ‘Heaven on Earth’ in Chinese) is registered as a non-government private limited business with the Kanpur registrar of companies. It was registered on November 5, 2020, two days after the date on the rent agreement in Greater Noida. According to Ministry of Corporate Affairs documents, the company has two partners, including Ravi. The name of this firm may also be seen on various documents recovered from the detained suspect.
DCP Meenakshi Katyayan further stated, “During interrogation Petekhrinuo revealed that she met Xu Fei at a nightclub in Gurugram last year and got into a relationship with him after which they moved to rented accommodation in Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida.”
About the fake companies, she said, “One of the firms is registered in Ghaziabad which was checked by local police and the address was fake. Another one registered in Panipat, Haryana is also being checked and is most likely a fake one. The business firms have fake GST numbers as well. The girl was a big spender. Looking into her bank accounts, found transactions to the tune of nearly Rs 52 lakh spread over the last four or five months. There are shopping trips of over Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh at a time. The money to her bank accounts was being routed through the fake business companies established by the Chinese national. She has five bank accounts, out of which large transactions have been carried out in one account. There is a possibility that money laundering was being done. It is being investigated. They are also suspected of having transacted through Bitcoin.”