The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Voter ID' Rs 1000 for a fake

Barasat, Feb. 11: A raid by police and the Election Commission has hit what is said to be the tip of a racket in fake voter I-cards, which may well have flooded Bengal.

Seven people from Gaighata in North 24-Parganas, about 50 km from Calcutta, were arrested last night.

The police said some of them were traders who took to the “part-time” fake document business for a fast buck.

It takes only about Rs 5 to make a fake card, which sells for as much as Rs 1,000.

“We conducted the night-long raid following specific leads,” district magistrate P.K. Mishra said this afternoon.

“More raids are likely in the next few days,” added district superintendent of police Praveen Kumar.

Over 25 lakh names were struck off electoral rolls before last year’s Assembly elections because they were either fake or their owners had changed their constituency or died.

Chief electoral officer Debasish Sen said he was aware of the crackdown. “We shall take appropriate action after we get a report from the district administration.”

The police planned to lay a trap three days ago.

“We became definite about the racket after four men who claimed to be from Baruipur in South 24-Parganas applied to us three days ago for the inclusion of their names in the Gaighata voter list. They even produced residents’ certificates signed by the Baruipur block development officer. The documents were forged,” a North 24-Parganas official said.

The four did not have their names on the Baruipur voter lists. Tracking down the source of the fake certificates, the police launched last night’s raids. Those held apparently revealed a far wider racket.

“Earlier, we asked the four to come to the block office for the completion of the name-transfer process. They were arrested on arrival,” said Jyotirmoy Tanti, the Gaighata block development officer.

Kumar said the four revealed during interrogation from where they got the fake residents’ certificates.

Local Trinamul Congress MLA Jyotipriya Mullick said he had sent a letter to the Election Commission last month alleging that the area was teeming with fake voters. Not surprisingly, he saw “some CPM leader’s involvement” in the racket.

The same racket, he added, distributes fake ration cards among Bangladeshi infiltrators. “The ration cards help them get their names included in the voter list.”

Last November, two CPM branch committee members were arrested for being involved in a racket dealing in fake documents.

The police refused to put a number on how many fake voter cards could be in circulation. “The investigation has just begun,” said an officer.

Nadia, Howrah, Hooghly and the two 24-Parganas were prime markets for the North 24-Parganas gang, he added.

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