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Two MPs quizzed in human trafficking scandal

The Delhi Police question the MPs even as they claim to have arrested the travel agent who had arranged the forged travel documents for Katara.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 17, 2007 06:15 PM IST

Delhi Police on Thursday questioned two MPs over their involvement in a human trafficking scam even as they claimed to have arrested the travel agent who arranged the forged travel documents on which Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Babubhai Katara was trying to smuggle abroad a woman and a teenager last month.

Delhi police questioned MPs - Ramswaroop Koli (BJP) and Mohammed Tahir Khan (BSP) separately for over two hours.

Meanwhile, Delhi Police Crime Branch sleuths said they had arrested travel agent Santhu Masih from near Gargi College in south Delhi on Wednesday night.

Police said Santhu, a resident of Punjab, was involved in arranging the travel of a woman, Paramjeet Kaur, and a teenager, Amarjeet Singh, who were posing as Katara's wife and son when they were arrested on April 18 at the Indira Gandhi International airport in New Delhi before they could fly out to Toronto on the diplomatic passports of Katara's family.

"We arrested Santhu and would seek his remand for further investigation," a senior investigating official said.

"We have not recovered any passport from him but his arrest is very important in the case. He will be questioned for his involvement in the trafficking scam," he added.

Meanwhile, the two MPs Khan and Koli, who had twice failed to comply with the notices sent by police to appear before the investigating team, appeared for quizzing on Thursday. The MPs, however, denied their involvement in smuggling humans abroad.

Khan said dragging his name in the scam was a "conspiracy" against him and his party.

"It's a conspiracy by the opposition against me and my party. I have done no wrong. I am not involved in any human trafficking scam," Khan said after his interrogation.

"We are cooperating with the crime branch. I am ready to come anytime before the investigating agency or any parliamentary committee," he added.

The BSP MP said that he had travelled twice abroad but refused to divulge the details.

Koli, attired in a Rajasthani dress, said he was cooperating with the Delhi Police.

The investigating official said, "The duo didn't bring their passports with them. Koli had told us that he had lost his passport. We will call them again later for further quizzing."

The crime branch had on Tuesday issued notices for a third time to the duo after they failed to comply with the earlier notices.

On Monday, police had interrogated two BSP MPs - Mitrasen Yadav and Ashok Rawat for nearly an hour after they presented themselves in response to the notices sent to them last month. The investigating team also kept their passports pending for further investigations.

Their presence was sought following the allegations made by Sunder Lal Yadav (travel agent Sunder)," a police official said.

Yadav, Rajendra Kumar Gampa and their female accomplice Kiran Dhar had revealed in a city court last month that MPs Khan and Koli were the central figures in a racket to smuggle people abroad on the diplomatic passports of the MPs' family members or on forged documents.

Sunder and his two accomplices were nabbed following the arrest of Katara.

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