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Passports fake, admits MEA

The ministry of external affairs (MEA) had admitted to the existence of a fake passport racket run by one of its officers based in Washington DC after it was tipped off on the matter by Delhi police. Faizan Haider reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 11, 2011 23:30 IST
Faizan Haider

The ministry of external affairs (MEA) had admitted to the existence of a fake passport racket run by one of its officers based in Washington DC after it was tipped off on the matter by Delhi police.

The officer concerned was allegedly involved in issuing counterfeit passports to US-based Indians whose original documents had expired. Investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the Indians had gone to the US with fake passports.

Delhi Police had conducted an internal enquiry and arrested 23 passengers who had got their passports from the Indian embassy in Washington DC.

After it got the police report, the ministry of external affairs has confirmed that of the 23, nine passports were fake. The genuineness of the others is being probed.

Police became suspicious and initiated an enquiry after 19 passengers coming to India were found carrying passports of the J series (passports are arranged alphabetically) and signed by a single officer. This was found to happen over a stretch of six months or so. All were arrested at the airport when they were leaving the country.

"The passports issued (in the US) are sometimes scanned copies of other passports. The fraud was detected when immigration officials entered passport numbers in their computers and found that the passport a passenger is carrying doesn't belong to him (but someone else)," said a senior Delhi Police officer requesting anonymity.

"We had given details of the passports to the MEA and (it has) now confirmed that the passengers were carrying fake passports. The role of the officer who had issued the passport is under scanner," he said.

"Four more passengers were caught after we had submitted the report. We have asked the MEA to either investigate the matter further or allow (us) to do so as this is a major security concern," he added.