The Ministry of External Affairs has revoked 127 passports that were obtained on the basis of fake documents in Tamil Nadu. Indian missions abroad and all international airports in the country were alerted of the scam involving many Sri Lankan nationals who managed to get the passports issued at the Regional Passport Office, Tiruchi, police sources said on Friday.
The ‘Q’ Branch CID that is investigating the fake passport racket case had arrested a few persons, including a police official, and is on the lookout for more suspects based in Chennai and other metros, police sources said on Friday.
Though the location of the 127 passport holders was not known, sources in the MEA said they would not be able to use their passport as it was now invalid. Though the supporting documents were fake, the suspects provided their original photograph in the application while seeking the passport.
“Since we have the photographs, it would be easy to apprehend the suspects if they arrive at any airport or seaport in the country or approach Indian missions abroad for visa or any other service. Going by the departure details, the Sri Lankan refugees headed to either Canada or Australia,” a MEA official said.
Confirming that the 127 passports were impounded, the Regional Passport Officer, Tiruchi, K. Balamurugan said the information was updated in the Passport Related Information Data Exchange (PRIDE) system that was a centralized mechanism to maintain the data of passports.
The modus operandi of the suspects was to apply passport through the District Passport Cells in Thanjavur, Thruvarur, Pudukottai and the adjoining districts. They would submit fake documents with regard to address and identity proof. “Passports applied through these cells are issued based on police verification…it appears that they managed to get police report in their favour,” a passport official said.
Investigation is on to unravel the entire racket and ascertain the actual number of people who obtained the passports through unlawful means.
“Since some government officials, including a few in the police department, are suspected to be involved in the racket, we might seek a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the case,” a police official said.