The Task Force sleuths on Thursday busted a gang of five persons engaged in making fake ration cards, voter identity cards and photo identity cards that are required to obtain passports under the Tatkal scheme.
The cops seized a computer, 52 holograms, fake ration cards and voter ID cards.
Passport agents, Md Yousufuddin, 30, Qamruddin alias Kamaal, 35, Mohammed Ali, 26, Mirza Amjad Baig, 27 and Md Zakir Hussain, 26, have been arrested.
The accused secured the holograms used for voter ID cards from a retired employee of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation named Ramchander, through one Zakir Hussain. The accused confessed to the police that they had been doing it for the last three years with the connivance of employees in the passport office.
“They have been serving as a single window system for all those who want to obtain passports without documents,” said the commissioner of police, Mr A.K. Khan. Applicants were charged `15,000-25,000 for the service.
“This has brought to light the security risk the nation is facing as Hyderabad’s is the second largest passport office in the country in terms of issuing passports, and the crime syndicate can go abroad using the same,” Mr Khan said.
Passports have to be verified by the police, but the problem here is that while the applicants get their passports within a few days, it takes the police two months to get round to verifying the passport details by which time the crooks could be out of the country.
“We get an opportunity to revoke them only when they come for renewal, which is after 10 years,” Mr Khan said.
Mr Khan said there are more such gangs operating in the same way. “We are writing to the new passport officer for action as the accused named six employees of the passport office.”
The modus operandi is that passport agent Qamruddin sends code word D-ID (Duplicate) to an employee of the passport office who in turn will direct him whom to contact and how to proceed and it gets done immediately.
“We will take criminal action if it is established that the employees of the passport office issued such passports,” said Mr Khan. Deccan Chronicle