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In business with Mahatma’s friend

mumbai Updated: Nov 25, 2009 01:58 IST
Rachna Pratihar
Rachna Pratihar
Hindustan Times
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Maqsood Rawal (32) mortgaged all of his wife’s jewellery for Rs two lakh, and borrowed Rs 1 lakh from a friend – to get into business with Ejaz Khan (30), who claimed to have been a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi.

Rawal, who ran a travel agency, never saw Khan or his money again. More interestingly, Khan cheated a succession of victims like Rawal, who didn’t think it odd that a friend of the Mahatma hadn’t aged in nearly 65 years.

“Khan, a B.Com graduate with excellent computer skills, would digitally superimpose himself into a picture of Gandhiji, published in a newspaper dated July 12, 1945, and distribute the clipping among the victims,” said Senior Inspector Arun Sonde of Mumbra police station.

Khan would tell his victims he had participated in the freedom struggle, and was now in the process of setting up a business in computers, which he said would yield attractive profits that they could share in, if they invested.

That investment was what Rawal pawned his wife’s jewellery for – even ending up forfeiting his claim on it. Khan was arrested in September this year.

“The caption on the manipulated picture said it was taken at a rally at Azad Maidan, and that after the rally, Gandhi and Khan, who it named as president of the Azad Hind Party, had met one General Bob regarding Bhagat Singh’s arrest,” Sonde added.

Like most con artists, Khan’s excellent communication skills did a large part of his work. He would show his victims the picture just long enough to get them hooked. The next instant, he’d be telling them of all the money they’d make if they joined his business.

Khan had offered to make Rawal a partner in the “planned business”, even registering a non-existent flat in Mumbra in Rawal’s name. “Since my travel business was loss-making, my partners and I decided to give it a shot,” Rawal explained.

Khan would call his victims to his swank office in Mumbra to impress them. That was pretty much the point of no return for them.

After getting the money, Khan would be untraceable. Rawal and a few other victims finally lodged a complaint with the Thane Court in December 2007.