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Fake rent agreement, house of a dead woman and police oversight: Cops bust racket in Maharashtra which helped over 70 Bangladeshis secure Indian passports

The racket was part of a larger plan to send Bangladeshis to the Gulf for employment using Indian identities.

A case of illegal immigration has emerged from Pune in Maharashtra, where the local passport office issued passports to multiple Bangladeshi nationals who had unlawfully entered India. These individuals secured the passports using counterfeit rent agreements from a slum area.

This revelation has caused a significant stir within the Pune passport office. About 6 individuals had furnished a rent agreement with a dead woman to produce address proof for the passport. The Pune Police Commissioner has declared that appropriate actions will be taken against any staff or officials of the passport department found to be complicit in this matter.

The issuance of passports to six Bangladeshi nationals at a slum address in Pune came to light following their arrest by the Mumbai Police. Investigations revealed that these individuals had obtained passports using rental agreements in the name of a slum house located in Yashwant Nagar, Yerawada, Pune.

The slum house, as per police reports, was associated with a woman named Suman Tujare, who has already passed away. These fraudulent documents were used to secure the passports. Four other passports were similarly issued for an address in the Hadapsar area of Pune. The total number of passports issued to illegal Bangladeshis using such fake documents in the last few months is estimated to be 70.

The investigations revealed that these illegal Bangladeshis wanted to travel to Gulf countries using Indian passports. Following preliminary investigations that uncovered significant fraud, the police have announced their intention to take disciplinary action against those involved in the passport section. Further police inquiries have confirmed that all the suspects are Bangladeshi citizens who had unlawfully entered India.

Pune police commissioner Retesh Kumaar said on Wednesday, “An inquiry has been conducted and action is being taken against five police personnel from the passport section for lapses in verification.”

The dead woman’s family says they never rented the house

According to a report by The India Express, a family member of the deceased woman Suman Tujare said, “We never rented the house to anybody. It was shocking to know that multiple passports were issued to our address using fake rent agreements. We have given Suman Tujare’s death certificate to the Mumbai police team that visited us for investigation.”

Serious lapses in the police verification process before issuing the passport were also noted in the investigation. The Pune police issued a verification report endorsing the passport applicants without conducting an on-site visit to Tujare’s residence to verify their actual residence at the stated address. Investigations disclosed that the passport office, relying on this police verification report, subsequently issued Indian passports to the Bangladeshi migrants.

The probe initiated in Mumbai

Over the past two and a half months, a team from the Borivali police in Mumbai, led by Sub Inspector Pramod Nimbalkar from the Anti Terrorist Cell (ATC) and Senior Inspector Ninad Sawant, apprehended 20 Bangladeshi migrants and two Indian nationals involved in a racket that provided passports, Aadhaar cards, PAN cards, and other documents to undocumented individuals.

The police reported the seizure of 10 Indian passports, all issued from Pune, along with counterfeit rent agreements, falsified Indian birth certificates, Aadhaar and PAN cards, Indian voter ID cards, Bangladeshi currency, and additional items. These were recovered from those arrested in Mumbai and Pune.

According to Sub Inspector Pramod Nimbalkar from the Anti Terrorist Cell (ATC), two individuals, Rahul Singh, also known as Shahrukh Khan, and Salman Ayub Khan, aged 34, both originally from Bangladesh, are accused of facilitating the illegal entry of Bangladeshi nationals into India by crossing the international border unlawfully. Rahul, who had been living in Pune, is now believed to have escaped to Bangladesh. Meanwhile, Salman has been apprehended.

Sub Inspector Pramod Nimbalkar said, “On reaching West Bengal, the racketeers in India provided fake Indian birth certificates to the Bangladeshi migrants. Then they were sent to Mumbai and Pune, where they got Aadhaar cards and PAN cards using the birth certificate. The suspects then applied for Indian passports, by submitting details of Pune addresses. The agents provided fake rent agreements from Pune as address proof, even though the Bangladeshi migrants never stayed at these places. Some lawyers in Pune prepared these notarised rent agreements without verifying facts.”

Who facilitated to getting of the fake documents?

Sainath Yeilwad, currently evading capture, allegedly supplied counterfeit rent agreements using the address of the late Suman Tujare to six illegal Bangladeshis. Nimbalkar added, “It is being probed how and why Tujare’s address was chosen for the scam. Also, four illegal migrants got fake rent agreements on a Hadapsar address through an agent identified as Kusum Gaikwad. We have arrested her. She was booked in four cases of cheating in the past. She prepared fake rent agreements in the name of her former driver.”

Detailing the Gulf plans of these illegal Bangladeshis, he said, “There seems to be a big racket where Bangladeshi citizens were brought to India illegally and then sent to Gulf countries as Indian citizens for employment by accepting amounts to the tune of Rs 7 lakhs from the migrants. We found a website that is being used for such rackets.”

70 Bangladeshis got Indian passports through such fake documents

Sub Inspector Pramod Nimbalkar said, “Our probe revealed about 70 Bangladeshi intruders were sent to Gulf countries using Indian passports in the last few years. Even those whom we arrested were found with Indian passports and had the same plans. It seems the Bangladeshi nationals believed it was easy and cost-effective for Indian citizens to get a job in the Gulf. Hence they came to India illegally, instead of trying for jobs in the Gulf from Bangladesh.”

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