The Pune Police have arrested a Delhi-based trader in connection with a 2011 passport scam, in which a group of racketeers, which had included a police constable, had allegedly helped many people, including a suspected Dawood gang member, in procuring genuine passports on the submission of forged documents.
The suspect has been identified as Hemant Mulshankar Gandhi (49) of Delhi. There was a look out circular (LOC) for Gandhi, due to which he was nabbed by immigration officials at the Delhi Airport while he was on his way to Hong Kong on February 16. The Delhi Police then handed him over to the Pune Police for further investigation.
The Bund Garden Police produced Gandhi before a magistrate court in Pune on Friday. The court remanded him to police custody till February 24. Police inspector Subhash Nikam said, “Gandhi had used forged corporation tax receipt, and bank statements for procuring the passport. Investigation is on to know how he came in contact with the racketeers.”
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In January this year, a couple, identified as Abbas Teharbhai Mithaiwale (44) and his wife Farida Mithaiwale (43), both residents of Thane, were also arrested in this case.
They were held at Mumbai Airport based on the LOC.
The police had earlier arrested seven persons in this case, including a police constable, Digambar Laxam Ghorpade, model Jiya Ashok Chopra, actress and dancer Vedika Tilakkumar Shivsagar, Arvind Rajendra Bhat, all three from Andheri, passport agent Abhay Krishna Lokhande of Gokhale Nagar, Rajnish Prakash Gujar of Shankarsheth Road, Inayatali Abdul Aziz Hariyani of Yerwada.
Investigation had revealed that constable Ghorpade allegedly played a role in the issuing of at least 67 passports carrying fake names and addresses. One of them was Sajid Batliwala, an alleged member of the Dawood Ibrahim gang, who was arrested by the Mumbai Crime Branch in December 2010.
Police had filed the chargesheet in this case in August 2011. According to the chargesheet, police had obtained as many as 91 passports with fake names and addresses from the suspects in this case. Police said that they had issued look out circulars of 91 persons including Gandhi, who is learnt to be a trader of watches in Delhi.
Police said that Ghorpade was suspended from service. He was attached to the passport verification section at Bund Garden Police Station. He had allegedly conspired with the passport agents who obtained fake documents from their clients. Ghorpade allegedly faked the signatures of then senior inspector Suhas Nadgauda and other officers of Bund Garden Police Station while doing a verification of the passports.