Four months after a fake passport racket was busted in Zirakpur with the arrest of four people, including two policemen, it has come to light that as many as 143 passports were made using forged documents and eight people had even travelled abroad. Moreover, all these fake passports had addresses of various housing societies in Zirakpur.
After getting the details, the passport office has impounded all fake passports and alerted the embassies concerned.
“What was initially thought to be a minor scam is now turning out to be a major criminal operation. The special investigation team so far traced 143 passports made on forged documents. We will be arresting these people soon,” said Satinder Singh, senior superintendent of police, Mohali.
Passports impounded, embassies alerted
Sibash Kabiraj, Regional Passport Officer, Chandigarh, confirmed that they have received the list of all fake passports from the Mohali police.
“We have impounded all the passports and alerted the embassies concerned about people who have travelled abroad using fake passports. The moment anyone applies for any passport service, we will alert the police,” he said.
It was in November last year when police arrested four people, including head constable Sukhwant Singh and constable Rajinder Singh, both posted at Zirakpur and assigned passport verification duties. The other two were Raman Kumar, the brains behind the racket, and Arvinder Kumar.
Following this, the SSP formed an SIT comprising SP Harbir Singh Atwal, DSP Manjit Singh Aulakh and inspector Amardeep Singh to probe the racket. The four accused are presently lodged in jail.
Gangsters among clients of racketeers
Among those who got the fake passports were gangster Raju Basodi of Haryana and at least 15 other criminals from Punjab.
The Mohali police have already arrested Basodi, whose passport was registered under the name of one Gurveer Singh.
Another fake passport was prepared for Ludhiana gangster Gopi Lamber. Ashish Kumar, who is into drug trade, also got a fake passport under the name of one Sandeep Singh of Kapurthala.
Key players and modus operandi
Raman Kumar, a resident of Dera Bassi, was the brains behind the racket.
He was a property dealer operating in Zirakpur and Dera Bassi before he switched to passport services and opened an office in Ambala.
He charged ₹50,000-1 lakh per fake passport from his clients, and used to prepare forged documents, including Aadhaar cards and voter cards.
His accomplice Arvinder Kumar used to apply for passports on these forged documents in Chandigarh.
Hailing from Chamba in Himachal Pradesh and residing in Ludhiana, he used to take a cut of ₹15,000-20,000 per passport.
Head constable Sukhwant Singh and constable Rajinder Singh were posted at Zirakpur and assigned passport verification duties.
Raman Kumar used to pay them ₹20,000 per passport to turn a blind eye to the racket and verify the fake passports.