Abdul Karim Telgi, convict in the multi-crore stamp scam died at the Victoria hospital in Bengaluru on Thursday. Born in a small panchayat town of Khanapur in Karnataka, Telgi’s parents were government employees who worked with the Indian Railways. However after the death of his father, Telgi was forced to take up odd jobs and used to sell eatables on trains. Eventually he moved to Saudi Arabia.
On his return, he tried his hand at the counterfeit business and initially limited his business to making fake passports. With a shortage of stamps and stamp papers to carry out various legal paperwork, Telgi found an opportunity and focused on making fake stamp papers. The probe also revealed that Telgi also engineered the shortage in connivance with a few officials of the Indian Security Press at Nashik. The two modus operandis helped Telgi expand his illegal business throughout the country and sell his fake to desperate people who were in the need of stamp papers ranging from Rs 10 to Rs 100.
In the 90s, Telgi’s golden run continued. While a case of fake stamp paper was registered in 1991 and then in 1995, it is claimed that both the cases were not probed thoroughly by the Mumbai Police and Telgi was let off. However in 2001 his run came to an end. In November of that year, Telgi was arrested by the Karnataka Police.
However with mounting public pressure, a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by the then DIG, Subodh Jaiswal was constituted by the Maharashtra Government. In 2003, much to the embarrassment of the Mumbai Police, instead of taking Telgi to the Crime branch office, cops were found partying with him at his Colaba house. The SIT submitted its report in April 2003.
However the first major arrest by the SIT came in June of that year when Anil Gote, a Samajwadi Janata Party legislator from Dhule was arrested. Responding to a petition filed by social activist Anna Hazare, the Bombay High Court compelled the Maharashtra State Government to appoint a senior officer to supervise the probe. S S Puri, the retired Additional Director General of Police was appointed.
In 2007, Telgi was convicted in the scam and awarded 30 years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 202 crores. On Thursday, Telgi died of multi-organ failure. Some unconfirmed reports stated that he had been afflicted with AIDS.While his dead might be closure to the case, many say that Telgi was just a ‘pawn’ and his political masters managed to remain out of bounds.