The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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More worms out of Katara can

New Delhi, April 30: Babubhai Katara had sneaked people out on forged passports at least thrice before a chance check exposed his game.

“We are now trying to establish the persons who accompanied Katara on these three occasions. It could well be three more cases of human trafficking,” said a senior official.

Investigations have revealed that three immigration officials at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport connived with the suspended BJP MP, the prime accused in the trafficking case, to smuggle people out of the country.

The Bureau of Immigration has repatriated them to their parent cadre. Sources refused to name them but said they were junior officials — one from Delhi police and the others from the Intelligence Bureau.

Wiser after the lapse, the home ministry is now thinking of posting middle-rung officials at important immigration counters.

If the revamp does take place, thank a passenger.

Katara might have ambled past the immigration counter again on April 18 if a traveller hadn’t misplaced her papers. It set off a search and Air-India officials, who were che-cking passports of every passenger, found that the photographs on the passports carried by the woman and the boy accompanying the MP didn’t match them.

A Delhi court today sent Katara to judicial custody till May 4 even as police said 35 passports had been seized following information revealed by the BJP leader.

“So far, 35 passports have been recovered at the instance of the accused MP,” an investigating officer told additional chief metropolitan magistrate Kamini Lau after the MP’s 11-day custodial interrogation ended today.

“During the period, we have taken him to his native place in Gujarat and probed into his several bank accounts, property transactions and investment details,” the officer added.

Katara’s private secretary Rajendra Kumar Gampa and associate Kiran Dhar were also sent to judicial custody till May 4. They will be produced again in court on May 4 along with Katara.

In the court, the police produced a printout of data stored in computers allegedly used by the accused and copies of communications allegedly sent on the official letterheads of three MPs.

But the investigators were ticked off by the court after they said that no other lawmakers, whose names had cropped up during the probe, had been questioned.

In a stern message, the magistrate told the investigators not to “pick and choose” while questioning MPs in the trafficking case.

“If you catch one and leave another, this is not good for your case and it is not done,” the court said.

One of the accused, betel-shop owner Sunderlal Yadav, had earlier given a new twist to the case by naming three other lawmakers — Mohammed Tahir Khan, Ramswarup Koli and the late Ram Awadh.

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