Chinese national without Indian visa ran illegal luxury club in Greater Noida

Three days after the Gautam Budh Nagar police arrested two people from a hotel in Gurugram, police found during interrogation that one of the suspects, a Chinese national whose Indian visa expired in 2020, was illegally running a luxury club exclusively for Chinese nationals in a remote village in Greater Noida since November 2020
Greater Noida, India - June 16, 2022: Chinese national arrested by GB Nagar police in connection to an illegal China-themed bar. The probe into arrest of Chinese national who was living in Greater Noida has revealed that he was running an illegal bar in Gharbara village under Ecotech-1 police station limits , in Greater Noida, India, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (HT Photo) (Hindustan Times)
Greater Noida, India - June 16, 2022: Chinese national arrested by GB Nagar police in connection to an illegal China-themed bar. The probe into arrest of Chinese national who was living in Greater Noida has revealed that he was running an illegal bar in Gharbara village under Ecotech-1 police station limits , in Greater Noida, India, on Thursday, June 16, 2022. (HT Photo) (Hindustan Times)
Published on Jun 17, 2022 12:25 AM IST
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ByAshni Dhaor and Snehil Sinha

Three days after the Gautam Budh Nagar police arrested two people from a hotel in Gurugram, police found during interrogation that one of the suspects, a Chinese national whose Indian visa expired in 2020, was illegally running a luxury club exclusively for Chinese nationals in a remote village in Greater Noida since November 2020.

The illegal three-storey luxury club located in Gharbara village falling under the jurisdiction of Ecotech-1 police station was busted by the Gautam Budh Nagar police on Tuesday evening. The club was most likely frequented only by Chinese nationals and Indians from the North East, said police.

On Monday, Gautam Budh Nagar police arrested Chinese national Xue Fei (36) aka Kelay, a resident of Xinji county in Hebei province in China, and Petekhrinuo (22), a native of Kohima, Nagaland, from a Gurugram hotel after receiving a tip-off from the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), who had nabbed two Chinese nationals on the India-Nepal border in Bihar on Saturday.

During interrogation, the two Chinese nationals told the SSB that they were staying at a friend’s place in Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida, where Fei was living with Petekhrinuo since 2021, police said. Fei and Petekhrinuo had already got information that police were on the lookout for them and had fled to Gurugram, from where they were arrested.

Police said Fei has been living in India since 2019. His visa expired in 2020 and he has been living in the country illegally since then. Official sources said various angles are being investigated, including the possibility that Fei may be a spy. Police is looking at prostitution, drug trafficking and possible espionage, said sources.

“We have contacted other agencies and are investigating the case from several angles but we cannot reveal anything at this point,” said Alok Singh, commissioner of police, Gautam Budh Nagar.

During the raid at the luxury club on Tuesday, police detained four Indian women and two Nepali women but did not find any of the Chinese nationals believed to be patrons of the club. “As per our information, there were at least 15 to 20 Chinese nationals at the bar at the time of the raid. However, they had fled by the time the officials reached the spot,” said Meenakshi Katayayn, deputy commissioner of police (Greater Noida)

“While inspecting the club, we found that the facility was designed in Chinese style. The bar and restaurant had items mentioned in Chinese script with no mention of Hindi or English anywhere. We suspect illegal activities, such as substance abuse, were going on here though this angle is yet to be probed,” said Katayayn.

Police are yet to retrieve the digital video recording (DVR) of the CCTV cameras at the club. However, the DCP did manage to retrieve the rent agreement of the establishment covertly during the raid, said sources.

Senior officials are also questioning the local administration and police officials as to how they were unaware that an exclusive Chinese club was operating discreetly inside a remote village in Greater Noida.

When asked why the local police were unaware about such a facility operating in the region, Katayayn said, “Reports that an illegal bar is running in the region had surfaced around three months ago; excise officials and local police had visited the place for inspection. At the time, police did not get an inking that the facility was being run by a Chinese national impersonating as an Indian or that the club is a safe house for Chinese nationals.”

Excise officials said that the establishment procured occasional liquor licence to serve liquor at the bar during some event. “We had conducted a raid about three months ago but did not find any alcohol then. Occasional liquor licence was recently procured from June 6 to 12, possibly for some event. However, occasional licence is applied for and granted online; any manager or staff can apply for it,” said district excise officer Rakesh Bahadur Singh.

Sources further said the three-storey building is owned by a resident of Gharbara village and was rented out in November 2020 for five years. The rent agreement was between the owner and four people--Fei and three Indians.

Police officers believe the bar was acting as a safe house for more Chinese nationals living illegally in NCR. Officials said apart from the forged documents recovered from Fei, he also got an Indian passport made from Kolkata with a fake name ‘Kelay’.

“The fact that Fei, who is well versed in English, has been staying in India with an Indian passport with a different name is a major cause of concern with regard to internal and international security of the country. We have roped in other agencies and experts to interrogate the Chinese national and have also informed the ministry of external affairs about the development,” said the DCP.

The Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Kolkata has been contacted to get details on how the fake passport was issued. “We have contacted the West Bengal police as the address mentioned on Fei’s Indian passport is from Darjeeling,” said Singh.

“As per the information we have received so far, Xu Fei never visited the Chinese embassy in Delhi after his visa expired in 2020. Though he said he could not get his visa renewed due to the Covid pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns and movement restrictions, it is hard to believe that he did not find time as it has been over a year since restrictions in cross-border movement in Delhi-NCR have been removed. In fact, international flights have resumed as well. Hence, police are trying to find out his real motive and why he overstayed in India, that too illegally,” added the DCP.

Both Fei and Petekhrinuo were staying in Greater Noida’s Jaypee Greens for the past one year and were in a live-in relationship, said police. “During interrogation, Petekhrinuo said she met Fei at a nightclub in Gurugram last year and got into a relationship with him, after which they moved to a rented accommodation in Jaypee Greens in Greater Noida,” said Katayayan.

Kelay and Petekhrinuo told police that they ran a business of mobile spare parts. “One of their firms is registered in Ghaziabad, which when checked by the local police was found to be fake as some other factory is operating in the address mentioned by the suspects. Another firm is registered in Haryana’s Panipat and is most likely a fake one. The business firms have fake GST numbers,”said the DCP.

Katayayn added experts have also been roped in to gather data from the electronic devices recovered from the premises of the club. “The mobiles recovered by the police were reset by the Chinese national with an aim to erase data. However, technical experts are trying to retrieve this data,” said Katayayn.

Police checked Petekhrinuo’s bank accounts and found that transactions to the tune of 52 lakh have been made in the last four to five months. According to her bank account statements, all her shopping and other expenses were being funded by Fei. “There are shopping trips of over 50,000 to 1 lakh at a time. The money to her bank accounts was being routed through the fake business companies established by Fei,” said Katayayn.

“Petekhrinuo has five bank accounts, of which large transactions were being done only from one account. There is a possibility that money laundering was being done but this angle needs to be investigated,” added the DCP.

Both Xue Fei and Peterkhrinuo are currently in judicial custody but the police will soon seek their remand for interrogation, said Katyayan.

Police have also contacted the transport department in Haryana to get registration details of the BMW found in Fei’s possession at the time of his arrest. “When Fei was arrested from a five-star hotel in Gurugram, he was using a BMW registered in the name of a private company in Panipat. We have contacted the Haryana transport department to get further details,” said a senior official from Noida police.

Officials said that there are two major lines of investigation that the police are following, the first being how did Fei get an Indian passport. During Fei’s arrest, police found photocopies of an Indian passport with his photos but a different name. Sources said he hid the passport before the police could arrest him. “Having a fake Indian passport is a clear indication of espionage. It is a grievous offence and we need to recover the passport to get to the bottom of the matter,” said the official.

Police also recovered portable printing machines used to forge documents, blank smart cards on which identity cards and other documents are printed, an Aadhaar card and voter ID cards.

The second important factor that the police is investigating is finding out a Gujarat-based businessman identified as Ravi (last name withheld). Sources said Fei named Ravi during investigation, his name also appeared on the rent agreement of the Greater Noida club as a partner and the Panipat-based company, to which the vehicle was registered.

According to sources in the know of the matter, the club, named as ‘Tianshang Renjian’ (meaning ‘heaven on earth’ in Chinese), was registered as a non-government private limited company at the registrar of companies in Kanpur on November 5, 2020, two days after rent agreement was signed in Greater Noida. The company has two partners, including Ravi, according to the records of the ministry of corporate affairs. The name of the company also appears on several documents obtained from Fei.

“Ravi’s name has cropped up several times during the course of the investigation and he seems to be the point of contact between the Chinese national and others in India. We have contacted the local police. Ravi is on the run; his phone is also switched off,” said the police official.

“There are many such exclusive clubs in NCR frequented by people from a particular nationality. The activities at this club are being investigated,” said the police commissioner.

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