ATS asks external affairs ministry to improve passport verification

  • Jayprakash S Naidu, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 06, 2016 00:23 IST

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) recently wrote to the ministry of external affairs (MEA), asking that the verification procedure prior to issuing passports be tightened. This year, 14 Bangladeshi nationals have been found guilty of procuring Aadhar, PAN and ration cards using forged documents. Three of them even managed to use forged papers to procure Indian passports.

An ATS official, who did not wish to be named, said, “The issue is very serious. The passports could have given them all new identities as Indians. Several hundred Bangladeshis come to Mumbai in search of jobs every year and manage to stay here illegally for years.”

He added, “Keeping this in mind, we recently wrote to the ministry of external affairs. We have given them copies of the forged documents used by the accused. We have requested them to check if same modus operandi has been used to procure passports elsewhere in the country. We have also suggested a thorough verification process and a foolproof background check before issuing a passport.”

In the past few years, thousands of Bangladeshi nationals have been arrested for staying in India illegally. The majority of them have been deported. Since late last year, courts have stopped giving bail to Bangladeshi nationals found to be staying in India illegally. A common trick they use is to claim they are from West Bengal.

In 2012, the special branch of the Mumbai police formed teams to crack down on illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the city; about 1,500 are caught every year.

ISIS fears

ATS officials said they have stepped up their drive against illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the city as the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) has made serious inroads in Bangladesh.

Officials said they fear that those radicalised by the terrorist group there could come to India and pose a threat to security.

ISIS cases in India

Malwani, 2015: UP resident Khalid Ahmed Ali Nawazuddin, alias Rizwan, supposedly ISIS’ number-two in India, and Malwani younster Ayaz Sultan allegedly identified and radicalised several young men and introduced them to ISIS’ foreign handlers in online chatrooms. The anti-terrorism squad filed a case, which is now being probed by the National Investigating Agency (NIA).

Kalyan, 2014: Four young men from Kalyan – engineer Areeb Majeed, 22; engineering students Aman Tandel, 27, and Fahad Maqbool Sheikh, 24; and call centre employee Shaheen Tanki, 25, went to Iraq, allegedly to fight for ISIS, in May 2014. Areeb has since returned home. The case is with the NIA.

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