| Gere and the other targets of the moral cops
New Delhi, April 18: A BJP member of Parliament was today arrested trying to ferry two persons abroad on the passports of his wife and son, jolting his party and its affiliates off the moral high horse.
Two days after violently defending “Indian culture” against a US actor and a news channel, the Sangh parivar was wiping blood off its own nose as Gujarat MP Babubhai Katara came under the shadow of human trafficking.
The 46-year-old MP, who represents Dahod, was held at the Delhi airport with a boy and his mother, who claimed she had paid him Rs 30 lakh to help them migrate to Canada. Katara, who has been closely associated with the VHP, has admitted to the offence, a Delhi police officer said tonight.
The MP arrived at the terminal around 4.30 am in his official car with Paramjeet, 38, and her 13-year-old son Amarjeet. They walked to the Air-India check-in counter and handed their tickets for Flight 187 to Toronto, scheduled to take off at 7.30.
“The faces on the passports weren’t even close to those of the people standing in front of us,” said the duty officer in charge at the time.
Katara began “screaming”, he said, telling the officials he was an MP travelling abroad as part of a parliamentary committee. But they got in touch with immigration, who grilled the group for nine hours.
Katara’s secretary Rajinder was with him, but he “ditched his boss and ran” from the airport once he realised that the MP had been nailed, the police said. A hunt is on for the secretary, who officers believe was the middleman.
Paramjeet told the police her husband had dumped her and she needed to go abroad and start life afresh. “That she came to Katara for help indicates he was already involved in some such racket — we suspect an international ring at work,” an officer said.
The earlier stamps on the three passports — of Katara, wife Sharadaben and son Bhavesh — are being investigated.
The MP has been charged with cheating, impersonation, use of forged documents and criminal conspiracy, and is being questioned further by the police. The BJP has suspended him.
The party has earlier seen its MPs — and those of some other parties — accept or demand bribes for asking questions in Parliament and for projects under their local area development funds.
The latest scandal comes just after the party, with its emphasis on chaal and charitra, had frowned on Hollywood star Richard Gere for pecking Shilpa Shetty on the cheek at a Delhi AIDS function while its ally Shiv Sena burnt the two actors’ effigies.
On Monday, a saffron outfit vandalised the STAR News Mumbai office for beaming the elopement of a Hindu girl and Muslim boy.
In Bhopal, saffron leaders had joined hands to rant against the marriage of a Hindu girl with a Muslim who had converted for her sake, calling bandhs and demanding changes to marriage laws.
One of them, Bajrang Dal convener Devendra Rawat, said: “The MP should be punished for lowering the prestige of the party and our ideology.”