Three Mumbai corporators helped Bangladeshi illegals get Indian IDs
Police say elected local leaders from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Vasai-Virar, gave affidavits for illegal immigrants to procure PAN cards; letters stated they personally knew the Bangladeshis and vouched for them
Latif Gazhi being taken away by the police
Just a fortnight after the arrest of a 62-year-old grave-digger who forged documents for illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, another sensational racket has come to light — a few of the immigrants had got reference letters from three corporators from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Vasai-Virar. The letters stated that the corporators personally knew the Bangladeshis and vouched for them.
BVA corporator Narendra Patil, Shiv Sena corporator Meghali Raut, and NCP corporator Pratiksha Ghuge. Pic/Hanif Patel
Just last week, mid-day had reported how the police uncovered the immigration racket being run right outside a courtroom by the unlikeliest kingpin – elderly grave-digger Latif Gazhi (62), who later turned out to be a master forger.
Investigators have managed to link Gazhi to at least 65 illegal immigrants to whom he supplied fake documents to prove they were Indian nationals — all for Rs 5,000.
After they arrested by the Special Branch of Mumbai Police, many of them provided bogus address proof from Hasnabad Gram Panchayat, 24 Pargana, West Bengal. When these were found to be forged, the Azad Maidan police registered an offence and began an intensive investigation.
To their shock, they found that some of the Bangladeshis had provided PAN cards as proof, along with reference letters from three corporators, claiming to know the immigrants personally. These corporators have been identified as — Shiv Sena corporator Meghali Raut from Ward No 38 of Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation; NCP corporator Pratiksha Ghuge from N-ward (Ghatkopar) of BMC; and Bahujan Vikas Aghadi corporator Narendra Patil from ward number 10 of Vasai-Virar Municipal Corporation. The trio claim that their letterheads were stolen and that someone had forged the letters with their signatures.
“Till now, we have come across three such cases where the accused had applied for PAN cards with letters from corporators,” said a police officer, adding, “If one doesn’t have residence proof, then a corporator or MLA can vouch for them with a letter, mentioning that they know the applicant personally. These three coporators had done the same.”
The investigation also revealed that one of the corporators issued the affidavit while the applicant was in Byculla jail. “This is a really serious issue that needs to be probed thoroughly,” said another officer.
A senior cop added, “We need to question these corporators whether they really know these persons; if yes, then since when. And if they don’t know them, why did they give an affidavit which has their signature and a photocopy of their ID card issued by their respective municipal corporations and signed by the municipal commissioner?”
Latif’s son unaware
Meanwhile, Gazhi has been charged for another 19 cases by the Azad Maidan police. He was produced in Esplanade Court and was remanded to police custody. Cops also questioned his son, Abdul, who claimed he was unaware about his father’s actions. “He used to do a lot of paperwork, but he always told me it was personal work,” Abdul told the police.
The other side
Narendra Patil, BVA corporator Ward No 10, VVMC
‘The affidavit with my signature was forged. I don’t know how a lady from Bhayander got it, and how the official processed it for PAN card. I was called by the Special Branch for investigation and I cooperated with them. If the police need any more inputs, I am ready.’
Meghali Raut, SS corporator Ward no 38, NMMC
‘More than a year ago, I had arranged a camp for citizens in my constituency at Koparkhairane. We had issued affidavits to citizens after checking proper documents. One person had secured the affidavit and misused it. We have informed the Special Branch of everything.’
Pratiksha Ghuge, NCP corporator N-ward, BMC
‘Two years ago, I was told by a PAN card official that my affidavit was attached to a woman’s application. I immediately contacted Ulhasnagar police about it. The stamp and signature have been forged. But the photocopy of my ID card is real. I have been cheated. I will cooperate with cops.’
No of cases that Gazhi has been charged with by the Azad Maidan police
The amount Gazhi charged for arranging fake citizenship documents for Bangladeshis
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