The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Web of VIPs in scam
under scanner

MPs whose names have cropped up
• Babubhai Katara (BJP), Gujarat
• Tahir Khan (BSP), UP
• Ashok Rawat (BSP), UP
• Mitrasen Yadav (BSP), UP
• Ramswaroop Koli (BJP), Rajasthan

New Delhi/Hyderabad, April 22: As four MPs got sucked into the Babubhai Katara human trafficking scandal, investigators said the racket may also feature MLAs, bureaucrats, senior police officers, corporation chiefs and even corporate bosses.

Andhra Pradesh, which has emerged a hub of the scam, is probing 150 VIPs, including “chairmen of corporations and IT executives”, said state CID chief Umapathy.

“When lawmakers and bureaucrats send in requests, consulate officials take a cursory look and put a stamp. Even the interview for visa is waived,” an Andhra secretariat official said.

“This also applies to business executives who travel frequently. After all, they are not called CIPs — commercially important persons — for nothing.”

Delhi police have sent teams to Punjab, Gujarat, Andhra — where many of the suspect travel agents are based — and Uttar Pradesh, home of the three accused Bahujan Samaj Party MPs: Tahir Khan, Ashok Rawat and Mitrasen Yadav.

“More names may emerge,” said a Delhi officer, adding he was tired after staying up all night but excited at the thought of nabbing more bade kabootars (big pigeons).

The lid came off the racket when BJP leader and Gujarat MP Katara was arrested at the Delhi airport on Wednesday while trying to smuggle a woman and a boy out to Canada on the passports of his wife and son.

The process of cancelling Katara’s passport has begun and the police have asked banks to freeze his accounts. His houses in Jhalod and Chitrodia in Gujarat have been searched.

Sunderlal Yadav, a Delhi paan seller who allegedly brokered the deals, has named the other MPs, including Katara’s party colleague Ramswaroop Koli and late MP Ram Awadh.

Also arrested are Katara’s secretary Rajinder Gampa and his sister Kiran Dhar, who are believed to have trained the illegal immigrants in impersonation.

Mitrasen has admitted knowing Sunderlal but denied the charges, while BSP chief Mayavati, in the thick of Assembly poll battle, has asked for “proof” against her MPs before she acted.

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