A 37-year-old man was held at the Mumbai international airport last week with a forged passport, allegedly while attempting to return home from the UAE to be with his sick wife.
According to the police, Moosa Cheruwara, of Kerala’s Mallapuram district, worked as a cook in the UAE. He was caught on On March 24 after his arrival from Muscat, Oman, when the immigration officer who checked his passport — bearing the name Shiriya Abdulla Mohammad Areef — suspected the photograph had been switched.
The immigration officer, the police said, checked digital records of the passport, and found that it bore a different photograph. Cheruwara then allegedly confessed to having falsely acquired the passport.
Cheruwara, the police said, moved to the UAE in 1998 to work as a cook. In 2005, he allegedly sold his passport for Rs 5 lakh in the UAE as he needed to send money to his family to buy a plot of land, officers said.
Last week, when informed that his wife had taken ill, Cheruwara wanted to return to India, but did not have a passport. “The accused contacted a travel agent, who gave him a passport. The photograph on the passport was switched with that of the accused,” said Baburao Mukhedkar, senior inspector, Sahar police.
Cheruwara has been booked for cheating and forgery.
His lawyer, advocate Prabhakar Tripathi, said Cheruwara’s employer took away his passport in 1998. He had a contract with his employer for some more years, and when he asked to return home before the period was over, the employer refused. “So, Cheruwara went to a travel agent, who cheated him,” the lawyer said.