The anti-terrorism cell of the Chembur police arrested three people, including a pan shop owner for running a racket of making Aadhaar cards with fake documents.
The anti-terrorism cell of the Chembur police arrested three people, including a pan shop owner for running a racket of making Aadhaar cards with fake documents. The officials have also arrested the manager of an Aadhaar centre in Govandi for conniving with the pan shop owner, approving fake documents and issuing Aadhaar cards.
The arrested accused have been identified as Ramashray Indrajit Yadav alias Pandit (44), Diptesh Dashrath Salunkhe (25) and Shantaram Yashwant Chavan (38). Sources said Pandit, who owns a pan shop at SG Barve Marg in Nehru Nagar is the mastermind and would allegedly make Aadhaar cards for people who did not have valid identification and residential documents for anything between Rs 300-Rs 500.
The case came to light when Prakash Kalange, API, anti-terrorism squad, visited a mobile shop in Nehru Nagar on work to collect documents submitted for new mobile connections and he found two suspicious documents there.
“When we investigated these documents, we found one of them belonging to a salon owner who had submitted his Aadhaar card for the connection. This Aadhaar card had the address of the hair-cutting salon when he did not even own the place and this raised our suspicion,” said Mr Kalange. He added that when they investigated further, they found that he had submitted an electricity bill generated in the name of the owner of the hair-cutting salon with two self-attested pictures. “When we inquired with him he told us that he had paid Rs 100 to Pandit to get the Aadhaar card,” said Mr Kalange.
The officials then found Pandit and a search of his pan shop revealed that he had stored hundreds of Aadhaar and PAN card application forms.
“We recovered 16 PAN cards made with forged and fake documents and also a register that had names of people he had made documents for which also mentioned the documents that he had faked and the amount of money paid to him for the same,” said an officer of Chembur police. Sources inform that this register contained nearly 500 names and the police are tracing all the people named in the entries.
Explaining his modus operandi, Mr Kalange said Pandit would generally be contacted by people who had no identity documents but wanted Aadhar or PAN cards. “He had a stack of photocopies of original ration cards and when a person with no documents came to him, he would take one of these photocopied documents, cover the original holder’s name with white ink and then over this write the name of his customer and then make a photocopy. The finished document would look like a copy of an original with his customer’s name,” said Mr Kalange.
He added that to make them more authentic, they would get Chavan to sign on these photocopies. “Chavan would forge these documents with signatures of rationing officers so that it looked like real documents,” said an officer.
Sources added that Pandit had roped in Salunkhe so that these documents would be verified and approved without raising any questions. Salunkhe was an employee at the Aadhar card centres located in Akashdeep Colony in Nehru Nagar. This centre was owned by Salunkhe’s cousin identified as Madhuri Pandarinath Patil (32), who is also being investigated by officials to see if she knew anything about the scam.
“Pandit would pay Salunkhe Rs 100 for every application and in Salunkhe would in turn allow for the fake and forged documents to be processed. In some cases he would even issue Aadhar cards where the applicant had not submitted a single document,” said an officer.
Sources in the ATC inform that Pandit had been running the scam for the past two years. “The register has detailed accounts of all his customers and we have found many fake documents from his shop. We are still going through all the documents and more arrests are likely,” said an officer. He added that they are still trying to investigate how he made PAN cards with fake documents and for now they had only found evidence against him for making fake Aadhar cards. The arrested accused have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and remanded to custody.