GUWAHATI, Sept 26 - A very disturbing phenomenon of Bangladeshi nationals obtaining Indian passports with fake documents has come to light and the touts involved in such rackets are using new methods to dupe the authorities to prepare passports for foreigners. In one case, a Bangladeshi national, after obtaining a passport with such forged documents, even travelled to different foreign countries before he was nabbed in Pune.
Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that the demand for Indian passports among Bangladeshi nationals has increased in recent times as it is easier to get a visa to go to the Middle East countries for jobs with Indian passports. Of late, the governments of the Middle East countries are not too keen on issuing visa or work permits to Bangladeshi nationals and that is why, the demand for Indian passports has increased considerably in recent times.
Giving details of the modus operandi used by the touts involved in the racket, sources said that they approach gullible people in interior places of Assam with the passport application forms saying that the signatures and other documents of such people are needed for getting benefits under different government schemes. After getting the signatures and other relevant documents from such people, the touts just change the photographs and apply for passports. Usually, the persons, who are never likely to apply for passports, are approached so that they are not caught in the act.
Sources said that if someone goes to the villages to verify, they would find the persons in the given addresses, but in the process, some others were getting the passports in the names of genuine Indian citizens. Moreover, the touts make it sure that the age group of the persons they duped is similar to the age of the persons for whom they are making the fake passports. Normally, during the verification process, the police verifies the documents and addresses, but the photos are not compared with the applicants thoroughly and this is where the racketeers get away. If the police verification report and the other documents are in order, the Regional Passport Office has no way to cross verify and the Bangladeshi nationals get the Indian passports, sources pointed out.
Security sources said that recently a few such cases have come to light and most of the cases were detected in the districts of Nagaon, Karimganj, Cachar and Hailakandi. When approached, the persons in whose names the passports were issued, admitted that they had never applied for passports while some even never heard of passports. Sources said that only a thorough investigation and visits to the residences of the persons in whose name passports were issued in recent times, particularly in the interior places, will bring out the details of the racket as so far, no one is sure how many such passports with forged documents were issued. �The cases detected may turn out to be the tip of an iceberg,� security sources admitted.
In addition to that, the racketeers also make forged certificates , ration cards and even Voter Identity cards to make passports for foreign nationals, while, it is also suspected that forged birth certificates made in Nagaland are also being used quite often.
Sources revealed that a few months back, a Bangladeshi youth, working in a canteen of a multinational IT firm was arrested on suspicion and he was carrying an Indian passport showing him as a citizen of Assam. On thorough investigation, it was found that he was in fact carrying a passport made with forged documents. He had also travelled to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia with that passport.
Sources also said that a group of youths were arrested in Barak Valley when they came to Assam from Bangladesh and their sole aim of coming to Assam was not to stay here but to make Indian passports so that they can go to the Middle East countries in search of jobs.