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Updated: August 28, 2012 09:03 IST

‘Genuineness’ of seized passport baffles police

Marri Ramu
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The Hindu

Police sceptical of the gang having technical expertise to incorporate security features in passports, visas

Is the passport with different visa stampings recently seized by the Hyderabad police from a Gujarati woman, fake or original? Investigators don’t have an answer yet for this question. But the passport seized from a woman, Vaishali Kanubhai Patel, who allegedly faked a marriage with Yadneswhar Vasanth Thakur of Maharashtra to obtain visa to visit the United States, has indeed raised many doubts.

Suspicion about the veracity of the passport arose as it was in the name of Smitha Yadneshwar Thakur, a fictitious name created to lead the authorities believe she was Thakur’s wife. Actually, she was unmarried and wanted to fly to America to marry her fiancé living there.

Vaishali is believed to have approached a gang which engaged Thakur to act as her husband and got the passport in the name of Smitha. Details on the passport show it was issued five years ago by the Regional Passport Office in Mumbai.

When the deal between the woman and the gang was struck in 2012, how is it that the passport was issued five years ago? This naturally suggests the passport was fake one.

“But the seized passport pages have all the original security features. That means either they obtained it by furnishing fake documents or some employees of the passport office helped them out,” the investigators suspect. Interestingly, the visas of Thailand and Mauritius pasted on this passport too have standard security features. The police are sceptical of the gang having technical expertise to incorporate security features in passports and visas. “The passport and the visas seized from Ms. Smitha look genuine. All that she says is the gang arranged it. Now, we’re probing how the gang managed to get a passport with security features,” the investigators said. The kingpin of the gang, Zakir Yousuf Shaik, was accused of managing to send many persons abroad with the help of fake travel documents.

Earlier, the Delhi Police seized a bag containing over 100 original passports of different persons, from him in a case. He eventually came out on bail. Since his name cropped in the fresh case, the Hyderabad police issued a lookout notice to all international airports. City police teams went to Gujarat and Maharashtra but he eluded them.

Teams are being sent to the Mumbai passport office to verify genuineness of the passport and the visas.

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