Expatriates in Gulf fall victim to fake passport racketsJuly 26th, 2008 - 11:44 am ICT by IANS
By Jeevan Mathew Kurian
Kozhikode, July 26 (IANS) Police in Kerala believe well-entrenched networks are supplying fake passports to Indian expatriates in Gulf countries, with as many as five arrests this week. Immigration authorities at the Kozhikode International Airport here apprehended five people coming from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with fake passports in the last four days.
The latest arrest was made Thursday. The man in question, Pushkaran, 30, was a native of Kasargod district in northern Kerala. All those arrested arrived by RAK Airways from the emirate of Ras-al-Khaimah.
“Pushkaran told us that he had bought the passport from a person named Gafoor and paid 3,000 UAE dirhams for it,” an immigration official told IANS.
Police say many of the victims of the racket are expatriates who had deposited their passports with their employers or those who have lost the document.
“When they can’t get their passport from their employers, they think the easy way is to arrange a fake passport,” said a police official.
Police say it is easy to detect forged passports and the forgeries they have come across recently had all been clumsily done. According to police, the networks have deployed its members in Kerala to collect Indian passports and smuggle them abroad.
On July 6, customs officials at the airport arrested a youth, Nissar, who was travelling to Sharjah, and seized 31 passports from him.
“We are sure that Nissar is a member of one such racket. He had made several trips to Gulf. He used to board the flight from Mumbai,” C. Vijayakumar, deputy superintendent of police who is handling the case, told IANS.
“These guys are tough customers and it is difficult to get information from them regarding their operations.”
Vijayakumar at present is investigating around 50 passport forgery cases.
Police say some unscrupulous travel agencies help these rackets collect passports. They supply the passports from their clients to the racket and tell clients that the documents were lost.
“The customers do not suspect any foul play and go for a duplicate passport after reporting the incident to concerned authorities.”
Vijayakumar said the passport racket in the Gulf has got a strong network in Kasargod district in Kerala. “However, the kingpins behind the operations are based in Gulf countries.”
There are around 5.5 million Indian expatriates in the Gulf.