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Bengal cop's picture on Ukrainian's phone

UP task force checking authenticity of photograph

Daria Molcha

Calcutta: A 21st century parallel with Mata Hari - the most famous spy of the past century - has come to haunt a senior Bengal-cadre IPS officer after a purported photograph of him with a Ukrainian model landed up with the Uttar Pradesh special task force (STF).

The woman in her twenties, identified as Daria Molcha, was under the scanner of the Uttar Pradesh STF, which was probing her allegedly illegal stay and "suspicious" activities in India over the past few years, a Union home ministry source in Delhi told this newspaper.

She was arrested from Gorakhpur earlier this month on the charges of forgery, fraud and illegal stay in the country.

The photograph apparently surfaced while the investigators scanned her phone. "The picture was found in one of the phones that the Ukrainian national was carrying," said a Union home ministry source.

The picture will be sent for examination to establish whether it is genuine, or a morphed or superimposed one, the sources said.

Amitabh Yash, inspector-general of police (STF), Uttar Pradesh, told The Telegraph on Saturday: "Manipulation of data is so easy that until and unless I thoroughly examine every iota of evidence, I cannot comment on anything."

The IPS officer is now posted in Bengal in a senior position and had been accused of corruption by a central agency a few years ago during his central deputation.

The picture has created ripples in Bengal police circles but officials cautioned that mere presence in a photograph could not be construed as an offence.

"Perhaps we should wait for the probe to conclude.... But this is a very serious matter with larger ramifications," a senior bureaucrat said.

The investigators said the woman had been in touch with several influential people, including police officers, and was about to leave the country for the Gulf when the STF arrested her.

Sources said that at least two central agencies were interested in the case because of the foreign national's involvement.

Sources in the Uttar Pradesh STF said they were probing all those whose names and photographs had emerged from the suspect's phone and other belongings to see whether they had helped her stay illegally in India.

The Ukrainian model has been accused of entering India with fake documents in March.

According to the investigators, she was refused entry into the country last December after her visa was blacklisted during her first visit to India two years ago.

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