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Fake passports: Flaw in immigration check found

Two Myanmar nationals evaded scrutiny as the airport’s electronic passport verification system was missing: Probe

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune | Published: October 4, 2013 1:06:50 am

A probe has revealed that the two Myanmar nationals with fake passports had on September 21 easily passed the immigration checks and flown to Sharjah because the electronic passport verification system at the Pune International Airport was missing. So the verification was done manually and the fake ones could not be detected. The police said the absence of the system is a security threat.

The two were sent back to Pune by the Sharjah authorities on September 22 and immigration branch officers had handed them over to the Pune police. Their names on the fake passports were Ansari Mehboob Alam (24) from Bihar and Gazi Najbul Hasan (23) from Andhra Pradesh. After the probe,the police said the two had come to India via Bangladesh after they fled from Myanmar about six months ago. The two stayed at Deoband in Uttar Pradesh for 5-6 months.

Investigation has revealed that the person who helped the two in procuring the passport is also from Deoband. A senior Pune police officer said,“It is clear that they had procured the passports from racketeers. The immigration branch officers could not detect the fake passport as the electronic system required to verify passports was not installed there. The verification is done manually. It is clear that the suspects chose to travel from the airport where the system does not exist. The flight to Sharjah in which they had travelled had started the same week.”

The officer said the fake passports seized from them are examples of good forgery. “This confirms that there is a racket behind this. The absence of the system is a major threat to the securit,” the officer said. An investigator has confirmed that the two belong to the Rohingya Muslim community of Myanmar. Many of them are believed to have fled the country due to communal clashes there.

DCP (Zone IV) Manoj Patil said,“We have got the information about the person who helped the two in procuring the fake passports. We have launched a manhunt.” An officer of the immigration branch said the electronic system for verification has not been installed. But he refused to divulge the reason or whether it will be acquired in the future.

Airport officials said the passport verification was sole responsibility of the immigration branch and the airport administration has no role. The immigration check is under the Intelligence Bureau.

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