Chennai, Oct. 3: Chennai police today busted a major racket in the “manufacture and sale of fake passports and visas”.
The police swooped down on a printing press in Thiruvottriyur in north Chennai that had a capacity to print thousands of Indian passports and visas, besides visas of several other countries, including Sri Lanka, Nepal, Australia and Canada, according to joint commissioner (north) C. Sylendra Babu.
The press was also printing counterfeit foreign currency notes, an unspecified amount of which has been seized.
Three of the accused, Rajendran, Lakshmi Narasimhan and Surendra, who were arrested under various sections of the IPC for forgery, cheating and impersonation, have been remanded to judicial custody today, he said. They allegedly sold fake passports and visas for fees ranging between Rs 10,000 and Rs 1 lakh.
Lamination paper, film negatives, cameras, sophisticated computer equipment and other peripherals, including inks, have also been seized from the premises of the press.
Chennai police commissioner K. Vijayakumar said they were investigating all possible angles, including whether these fake passports had been used for any “evil designs”. The total value of the materials and currencies seized is still under assessment, he added.
The fake passport and visa racket was busted close on the heels of the gunning down of the dreaded terrorists from Tamil Nadu, Imam Ali and his four associates, in Bangalore on Sunday. Two associates of the slain terrorist, Ismail and Shah Jahan, had slipped out of the Bangalore hideout just before the shootout.
Madurai police later arrested Ismail while Shah Jahan, believed to be an explosives expert, who had arranged for Imam Ali stay in Bangalore, has gone underground.
Tamil Nadu police have stepped up vigil following the burial of Ali and his four associates in Madurai. Police sources said Shah Jahan could have gone to his hometown, Tuticorin, and efforts were on to nab him.
The unearthing of the fake passport and visa racket in Chennai today also assumes significance in the backdrop of another major racket busted at Tiruchirappalli airport last week, whereby Sri Lankan Tamils with the assistance of local touts and forged documents were using an ingenious method to fly out of the country.