The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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MPs under trafficking cloud

New Delhi, April 21: The shadow of human trafficking that undid BJP lawmaker Babubhai Katara last week has now fallen on two other MPs.

A key suspect in the racket today stunned a Delhi courtroom by naming the Bahujan Samaj Party’s Mohammed Tahir Khan and the BJP’s Ramswaroop Koli as possible links in the chain.

Sunderlal Yadav, a paan-bidi seller on North Avenue where several MPs stay, alleged that he had put travel agents looking to illegally ferry people out of India through to the MPs and been paid between Rs 30,000 and Rs 1 lakh “per assignment”.

Khan is MP from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh. Koli represents Bayana in Rajasthan.

Yadav alleged he had used his links with office staff of the MPs to seal the deals.

“This isn’t new. It started way back in 1993 with Ram Awadh,” he told the court.

Yadav, picked up by Delhi police last night along with two others, claimed the late Ram Awadh — BJP MP in the 10th Lok Sabha — had pioneered the racket in which MPs used diplomatic passports available to them and their families to escape the scrutiny of law enforcement agencies.

He alleged that a man named Moorthy — apparently the secretary of Telengana Rashtra Samiti chief Chandrashekhar Rao — was also involved in the immigration racket.

Yadav’s statement might just be what the police need to yank the lid off the trafficking racket. Most of the accomplices Katara named are junior Gujarat BJP officials.

“Katara had not named any other MPs. This statement came as a pleasant surprise to us,” deputy commissioner of police (crime branch) Neeraj Thakur told The Telegraph this evening.

“We are most certainly going to question the MPs named as well as their staff and their families.”

Speaker Somnath Chatterjee said the allegations were “very serious and grave in nature”. The matter, bound to reverberate in Parliament when the budget session resumes next week, could come up at a meeting of leaders of all political parties he has convened on April 25.

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