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Sikh family held with fake passports

They used forged Italian documents to vacation in India.

delhi Updated: Nov 09, 2011 01:46 IST

More than two decades after they fled the country of their birth to escape persecution by a tyrannical regime, a Sikh family of Afghan descent was arrested for allegedly using fake passports to flee the ‘safe haven’ they had migrated to.

The family of three, including a woman in the family way and a four-year-old boy, were nabbed at the departure lounge of the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport with fake Italian passports, on Sunday afternoon.

“Mahendra Singh, 26, and his family of three, including his wife Manmeet — who is six months pregnant — and their son were caught travelling not only on fake papers but even assumed identities, when they were intercepted. This is one of the few rare cases in which fake Italian passports have been used,” said a senior police officer.

When their ‘refugee status’ proved to be a hindrance in obtaining a genuine passport, police said, the family decided to procure and use fake Italian passports to visit their homeland for something as innocuous as a month-long vacation.

During interrogation, sources said, Mahendra had initially claimed to have procured the fake passports from his brother, later identified as Parvinder, who also works with him at a garments showroom in Lajpat Nagar, at a price of Rs 1.5 lakh in total.

But when Parvinder was questioned, he not only denied his own brother’s allegation but claimed to have no knowledge of Mahendra’s holiday plans.

“Mahendra had migrated to the city with his parents from Afghanistan when he was just seven years old, like his wife. The two had been neighbours since then, had fallen in love and finally married five years ago,” the officer said.

Police said that the couple, who reside in Tilak Nagar, had perfectly genuine refugee cards and other proofs of residence.

“After trying to implicate his own brother, Mahendra kept throwing several names at us when asked about the source of the fake passports. We have finally received some clues that indicate the involvement of an organised gang pulling the strings in this case,” the officer added.

First Published: Nov 09, 2011 01:45 IST