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22 held for stamp scam

Ranidanga, Nov. 22: The tehsildar of Attabira in Bihar and the professor of medicine of MKCG Medical College and Hospital in Berhampur, Orissa, have one thing in common.

Their official seals have now become part of the paraphernalia of the country's unemployed youth.

Today the Sasashtra Seema Bal (SSB) handed over 17 men, who had come to its frontier headquarters here to participate in a recruitment drive, to Bagdogra police. All 17 were in the possession of rubber stamps of government officials having the power to attest photocopies of documents.

Of the 17 arrested, 12 are from Bihar, three from Orissa, one from Jharkhand and one from West Bengal.

Five persons were arrested for the same reason yesterday.

Speaking about today's arrest, an SSB official said: 'When we checked their luggage, we found that they were carrying rubber stamps of government offices, with which they themselves attested the photocopies.'

Ironically, the SSB had not asked for any attested photocopies. 'We had asked them to bring their original certificates along with the copies, so that we could match them on the spot,' the official said.

Not willing to take any chances, the youths came equipped with the seals. Some of them also made use of the seals before their luck ran out.

'We are not the only ones,' said one. 'If checking is done properly, there will be hundreds who will be found to possess these stamps,' another added.

The youths said they were forced to resort to buying rubber stamps, 'openly available' in some Bihar markets, because the government officials charged anything between Rs 250 to Rs 350 per document for attestation.

'The police too are involved in the racket,' said Mohan Paswan, from Bihar.

SSB officials, however, feel the stamps are original and have been smuggled out of government departments. 'The perfection with which the national insignia is carved on the stamps makes us think so,' an official said.

Though the arrested men claimed that their documents were original, SSB officials feared that they could be lying. 'Ever year, we have to terminate the services of about 10 per cent of the new recruits, sometimes after months of service, because of false certifications,' an official said.

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