The recent arrests of a couple of travel agents in the state has opened a can of worms in the interstate fake visa racket running from Gujarat, Delhi and Mumbai.
According to the state Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS), the duo is part of a deep-rooted racket being run from Delhi and Mumbai by some big fish in the travel industry.
“The duo was working for two big heads of visa frauds who are sitting in Mumbai and Delhi. The details of passengers are provided to the masterminds who help local agents with fake stamps and arrange trips to the desired places,” said a senior ATS officer.
While refusing to divulge the names of the arrested agents and the masterminds, ATS officers said the agents in Delhi and Mumbai could be the persons who have started the trend of using fake stamps to forge visas in the country. They said ATS teams are camping in both cities to catch the masterminds.
According to police, the agents in Gujarat join some travel firm or work individually to find people planning to go abroad. They prepare a database, collect passports, and if a passenger does not have a passport, then they arrange for a fake one, and send it to the masterminds. The stamps prepared in Mumbai and Delhi are then attached to the fake visas.
Police said the masterminds have a strong market for the US, the UK and Australia in Gujarat, which remains their most favoured state besides Punjab. For each such passenger, an agent gets paid anything between Rs 30,000 and Rs 50,000. They said that every year, nearly 150 Indians are found travelling illegally.
Police suspect the agents might be trying to use the state as a platform for illegal immigration of people from neighbouring countries, particularly from Sri Lanka.
After preliminary investigation in one such racket busted earlier, the Special Branch of Ahmedabad police has zeroed in on the mastermind based in Chennai, one Jenah, and his associate Mayur from Mumbai.
Police said they had managed to send three Sri Lanka nationals to France on passports of residents of Chennai. The trio was, however, deported back from Dubai after their travel documents were found to be fake.
JCP (Special Branch) Shamsher Singh said, “Jenah used to collect passports of Tamilians and send aspiring Sri Lankans abroad on their passports. To arrange for their visa to Paris, he was found taking help of a Mumbai agent.”
The duo had been running the racket for many years, which was busted when they used the Ahmedabad international airport for the first time in August last year, police said.