Aiding illegals: Two Mumbai netas under scanner

Updated: Nov 18, 2019, 07:22 IST | Faizan Khan | Mumbai

Crime Branch probe reveals elected representatives are playing a major role in procuring illegal immigrants' govt IDs like PAN and Aadhaar

Cops say an Indian passport has more credibility in Gulf nations than Bangladesh's own
Cops say an Indian passport has more credibility in Gulf nations than Bangladesh's own

Two top Mumbai politicians from different parties are under the scanner for allegedly authorising illegal immigrants and compromising internal security. Their names cropped up during a crackdown by Mumbai Police's Crime Branch on illegal immigrants in the city. The Crime Branch recently initiated a detailed probe into the rising number of illegal immigrants, mostly from Bangladesh, living in the financial capital of the country.

During the course of their investigation, police unearthed how politicians, including elected representatives — MLAs and corporators, have played a major role in giving recommendations for illegal immigrants who apply for government IDs such as PAN, ration and Aadhaar cards. The illegal immigrants, with the help of local leaders, have also procured Indian passports, which poses a threat to the internal security of the nation, investigators said.

"We have been able to gauge the extent of the nexus. Most of this is impossible without the help of the local gram panchayats, tahsildars, corporators, MLAs and MPs. In the past three months, 75 cases of fraudulently obtained passport were transferred to crime branch, with 12 of them involving Bangladeshi nationals," a senior officer from the crime branch said.

"Illegal immigrants obtain Indian passports as it holds more value and credibility than a Bangladeshi passport. With the Indian passport, they get better jobs in other countries, specifically in West Asia," said Akbar Pathan, DCP Crime Branch.

Investigations revealed that the process to obtain the documents is swift — thanks to the local elected representatives who sign recommendation letters.

TerrorRehan Shoun and (right) Minasul Hasan

"We have found letters from two political leaders from different political parties who have given recommendation letters for Bangladeshi citizens which helped them access basic documents and obtain a passport," said an officer.

"At the same time, we are also verifying if the letters by the two politicians have been forged or taken without their knowledge or consent," he added.

Bangladeshi youth held

In a recent case, Rehan Shoun, 24, was intercepted by immigration officers on November 6 at Mumbai's international airport. When Shoun could not give proper details of his residential address in West Bengal, he was disallowed from boarding the flight.

Based on the suspicion his answers aroused, Rehan was questioned by immigration officers. He admitted that he hails from Bangladesh and carries both, a Bangladeshi and an Indian passport, the latter allegedly procured through illegal means. He was accompanied by Minasul Hasan, 27, who also hails from Shoun's village Modurai, Silhet in Bangladesh.

The crime branch conducted raids in Sakinaka and Ghatkopar on November 8, during which two agents who helped Shoun and Hasan get PAN and Aadhaar cards for R800 were held. They have been identified as Hamid Ali Khan, 49 and Shatrujeet Yadav, 29. Police also found four letters from political leaders of different parties and other documents.

Terror
Agents Hamid Ali Khan and (right) Shatrujeet Yadav

"It is usually very difficult to determine who might be carrying an invalid passport. Hence, when we come across suspicious persons, we register a case with the Sahar Police and hand over the detainees to them for further probe," said an immigration officer on request of anonymity. In the past three months, immigration officers have registered over 100 such cases with the Sahar Police.

In August, Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Barve had ordered a thorough investigation into the possession of fake passports and other documents citing a threat to internal security.

Since then, the crime branch took over the investigation, which led to the revelations about politicians' alleged involvement.

Bangladeshi's terror links

In March 2018, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad arrested three Bangladeshi nationals having links with a terror outfit, Ansarullah Bangla, in their home country. The terror organisation was directly linked with Al-Qaeda.

"One of these suspected terrorists was picked up from a sensitive defence establishment in Pune. During interrogation, we found PAN and Aadhaar cards, driving licences and birth certificates or letters from gram panchayats in West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh which helped them get Indian government IDs," a senior officer who investigated the case in 2018 said. According to the crime branch, in the past three years, approximately 1,400 Bangladeshi nationals have been arrested by the special branch for having forged or fraudulently obtained documents.

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No. if detainees handed over to Mumbai Police by Immigration officials

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