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Birth to college to death, fakes on sale

Calcutta, July 16: The CID has smoked out a racket in foolproof fakes of crucial documents that has been flourishing in the city and on its fringes for the past eight years.

Thousands of fake marksheets, birth/death certificates, ration cards, car registration papers and stamps of registrars of universities and Calcutta Municipal Corporation officials have been found after serial raids since June 26.

Three major varsities in Bengal ' Calcutta University, Jadavpur University and Burdwan University ' and Magadh University from Bihar have been found to be on the racketeers’ hit list.

Several hundred suspect ICSE and ISC marksheets have also been seized, along with those of nursing institutes and the Institute of Chartered Accountants. Also among the fakes are letterheads of various schools and colleges and of a south Calcutta MLA.

The area-wise reach of the racketeers is not yet known but it is believed they have spread their tentacles from Bengal into Bihar and parts of the Northeast. Police said it was the biggest racket busted in recent memory.

“Since the racket has been operating since 1998, we are not sure how many certificates have been sold. But we’ll take up the matter with universities and ask them to take immediate steps so that marksheets and other documents can’t be duplicated,” said Soumen Mitra, the deputy inspector general of police, CID.

“We’ll also scan the record books to find out more about those who had bought the documents. But it will take time.”

Fourteen people, including a woman, have been arrested from Howrah, Barasat and Kamarhati so far. Several typewriters, laser printers, hologram seals, a computer and a dot matrix printer have been seized.

“The racketeers would produce any document of any time to such perfection that it would fool even trained eyes. So, if someone was looking for a hand-written certificate of the Calcutta University of the 1960s even that was delivered,” Mitra said.

The documents would be delivered for a premium, starting Rs 2,500. On July 15, the racketeers earned about Rs 70,000, which was seized from Kamarhati.

Since the raids began, the racketeers have been shifting base from Pilkhana in Howrah to Rajabazar in Calcutta to Kamarhati in North 24-Parganas, a CID officer said.

“The computer work would be done by a 29-year-old youth from Howrah who is a forgery expert. Though not well educated, he is well versed in computer hardware and software and would deliver a particular document within an hour.”

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