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Frequent flier with fake papers

A man who had flown abroad at least 150 times on a passport obtained fraudulently was arrested in Calcutta early on Monday.

The forgery was detected by immigration officials at Calcutta airport, who handed him over to police.

Officials said Ghananand Shukla, a resident of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh, had been travelling on a passport issued in the name of Arun Kumar Mall, against a fictitious address in Howrah, from airports across the country over the past three years.

“Officials suspected something was wrong with his documents. The passenger admitted that he had been using a passport obtained fraudulently,” said Basab Talukdar, the regional registration officer for foreigners in Calcutta.

Shukla claimed he had in 1993 lost his passport issued by the regional passport office (RPO) in Lucknow. He then allegedly obtained a passport issued in the name of Mall by Calcutta RPO. In 2006, he got a passport booklet issued by the Indian embassy in Hong Kong.

Within six months, the pages of the booklet were exhausted and he got a fresh one issued by the embassy.

A third booklet was issued by the Indian embassy in Seoul in 2007 and a fourth by the Calcutta RPO the next year.

“He travelled abroad at least 150 times using the passport,” said an official. Immigration officials wondered how Shukla could get so many passport booklets issued without raising anyone’s suspicion.

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