Ashok Malhotra, facing charges of making millions in a Delhi land scam, is no different from Abdul Karim Telgi, who too made a fortune selling fake stamp papers allegedly in collusion with politicians and bureaucrats.
Both are "products of the corrupt political system", feel investigators and experts.
"Malhotra could not have been allegedly involved in such mega land deals and stashed away a huge amount of money without help of politicians," said a senior Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) official.
"He seems to be another product of a corrupt political system, which has backed him to earn millions not for himself but for them. It is not possible for a food vendor to allegedly collect millions of rupees without political and bureaucratic backing," the official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
"Why was Malhotra's reported wealth never scrutinised by the state government and income tax department, as he was apparently living lavishly in a mansion and owned at least 50 luxurious cars, all bearing VIP number plates," he queried.
Malhotra, 52, has been absconding after being accused of siphoning off millions of rupees in association with five Delhi Development Authority (DDA) officials and a private contractor by selling plots meant for allotment to displaced slum-dwellers.
The scam reportedly took place between 2000 and 2002.
Twenty years ago, Malhotra started off his business with a rickety auto rickshaw in which he used to sell street food. The amazing rise of a chhole-bhaturewallah from a one-tenement dwelling to a luxurious bungalow has flummoxed many.
"His assets and luxury cars must be easily worth Rs 1 billion," according to an officer closely associated with the probe in the scam.
It has also been reported that Malhotra's son had set up a company worth Rs 60 million in Uttarakhand a few years ago, while he had purchased various luxury cars in the names of his daughter and son.
According to informed sources, Malhotra, who ostensibly ran a canteen in the Delhi assembly premises among other enterprises, used to arrange vehicles and funds for many state legislators during elections. <b1>
"He was completely backed by politicians for their own purposes and benefits. And when he became an eyesore for some prominent leaders, he was chucked out and made the scapegoat," said Delhi Bar Association president KK Manan.
"This is not the first time a person is created by the system for its own benefits. Abdul Karim Telgi was also created and destroyed by the system," Manan told IANS.
Telgi was recently sentenced to 13 years in jail by a Pune court for selling fake stamp papers for years in a multi-state scam.
In raids on Malhotra's residence, the CBI has seized several incriminating documents related to the land scam, Rs 1.7 million, seven kilograms of gold and at least 50 luxury cars and 10 motorcycles - all bearing VIP number plates.
The raids have caused a major stir in political circles in New Delhi. The probe may open a can of worms for senior political leaders, who are allegedly associated with him and helped him in getting the VIP car numbers, the sources said.
They also revealed that Malhotra had purchased 10 new cars in the past few months and obtained the VIP tags with the help of officials in the chief minister's office and the transport department.