After three failed attempts, Zemarai Wazhma thought that Rs 22,40,000 and fake passports would be enough to send her daughter to London. Only, she hadn’t planned on getting caught. Wazhma (42), an Afghan national, her 13-year-old daughter and 20-year-old relative Azizi Khatima, arrived in Delhi on June 15 on forged Bulgarian passports.
Khatima and the minor were booked on a British Airways flight to London on June 15, while Wazhma was to return to Afghanistan soon after. All went smoothly for the women as they cleared immigration at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport. However, their luck ran out when they reached the British Airways counter at the departure gate at the IGI and handed over their Bulgarian passports for examination.
“The airline official suspected that the passports might be fake and ran them through the system,” said an officer at the Sahar police station. According to the police, once records confirmed that the passports weren’t genuine, the airline official allegedly decided not to report them to the Delhi Police and instead seized the passports, telling the women they would not be allowed to board the flight, and asked them to approach the Bulgarian embassy to recover them.
“The women were scared that things hadn’t gone as per plan and exited the departure terminal and went to Wazhma,” said the officer. Wazhma, the police said, contacted her travel agent in Kabul who advised them to return home. He told the women to make the trip using their original Afghan passports, police said. However, the Afghan passports did not bear an arrival stamp from immigration at the Delhi airport.
The agent directed them to Mumbai where they would get fake stamps allowing them to clear immigration, and charged Rs 1,28,000 for his service, said the police. The trio arrived in Mumbai last week, where an unidentified man met them near Eros Theatre outside Churchgate railway station. The women claimed to the police that the man forged arrival stamps on their passports and booked them on a flight to Kabul via Dubai on June 25.
However, on the date of travel, immigration officials at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport detected that the arrival stamps were fake and took them into custody at the Sahar police station. All three were booked on charges of cheating and forgery. Wazhma and Khatima were produced in an Andheri court on Friday, which remanded them in judicial custody while the minor was sent to a remand home.
During interrogation, Wazhma said she had been trying to get to London to join her husband, a man of Afghan origin whom she had married some time back. “She applied for a visa thrice and her application was rejected every time. After discovering that her husband was already married to another woman, she gave up on going herself and paid Rs 22,40,000 to a travel agent in Kabul to send her daughter to London along with Khatima,” said the officer.
The Sahar police are seeking details about the person the women met in Mumbai and also investigating how they were able to clear immigration in Delhi despite presenting fake passports.