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Now at T3, an immigration scam

delhi Updated: Apr 16, 2011 02:32 IST
Faizan Haider
Faizan Haider
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

The Delhi Police have busted a human trafficking racket operating out of Terminal 3 at IGI Airport. The integrated Terminal3, which is meant to facilitate passengers of connecting flights (both domestic and international), was being used by those involved in the immigration racket to their own advantage.

Airlines like Air India, which cater to both domestic and international passengers at T3, allow domestic passengers to board connecting international flights without having to show their passport at the immigration counter. After the arrest of some immigration and Jet Airways officials last week by the Delhi Police, it was revealed that a human trafficking racket was exploiting this loophole.

Chaman Azhar, an immigration officer, and Manoj Sarpal, a Jet Airways employee, told Delhi Police that they used original but blank boarding passes with fake dates and destination details to help illegal immigrants leave the country.

"Sarpal used to steal original boarding passes of Air India from domestic counters. Azhar used to take them home and print seat numbers, date, destination and other details. They used to give these passes to the illegal immigrants," said a police officer.

Police said the idea was to skip the check at the immigration counter. Illegal immigrants, who had forged passports, would carry both original international ticket and boarding pass and a fake domestic boarding pass.

They would show the international ticket to enter the terminal near the check-in counter, where a Jet Airways employee, who was part of the gang, would give them a fake domestic boarding pass of Air India, an original stamped international boarding pass, along with stamped visa and passport, and luggage card. An immigration officer who was part of the racket used to stamp the boarding pass, passport and visa and give it to the Sarpal.

At the immigration channel, they would show the domestic boarding pass and skip the immigration process, where their forged passports would have been checked under normal procedure. Then they would reach the security hold area and show their international boarding pass and easily proceed further to board a flight.

The biggest risk an illegal immigrant with a forged passport faces is at the immigration counter where thorough checks are done. So these passengers with forged passports but original tickets, in order to fly on the international airlines, would use the fake boarding passes of Air India and pass through the immigration counters.

Azhar who facilitated travel on forged immigration stamps for money, revealed that he had a printer at home to print fake details on blank boarding passes.

"From T3, the gang has sent more than a dozen passengers with fake documents to several countries, including the US and the UK. Of that, five have been deported so far," the officer added. The fraud was detected after a woman, Asha Panigrahi, was deported from Brussels for travelling on a forged immigration stamp on March 20. Passengers who want to travel on forged documents used to come through an agent and pay R30 lakh for the whole process.

"The Jet airways employee used to get R60,000 per passenger, while the immigration employee used to get R2 lakh," the officer further said.

The investigation also revealed the role of a Delhi Police sub-inspector who was posted at the airport earlier.

"We have identified him but he is absconding. His arrest is important to arrest more agents who are running human trafficking racket," the officer said.

On April 1, an FIR was filed by Jet Airways after its staff noticed forged documents on one Anisha Rahimbhai Mardeja, who was travelling to Toronto.

"The supervisor felt that the passport had not been checked by the airline staff during check-in," the officer added. Mardeja's passport and visa were allegedly found to be forged. During questioning, the woman told the staff that her real name is Nazma Maredia.

A senior Air India official confirmed that a domestic passenger is allowed to go through the international side if he/she has a ticket of connecting flight.

"The matter is being investigated by the police and we are waiting for the result," said an Air India spokesperson.