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Passport for Rs 1,500

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Passport for Rs 1,500, fake currency through ISI

>From Hitender Rao
Tribune News Service
KAIRANA (Muzzafarnagar), Jan 11 — Want a passport and a visa to visit
Pakistan within two days? Kairana is the place where one can get it made
just for Rs 1,500. Of course, the name on it will be of someone else but
the photograph will be of the holder.
This Muslim-dominated town in Muzzafarnagar district, about 35 km from
Panipat, has gained the notorious status of being a haven for smuggled
weapons, fake currency notes, drugs and espionage over the years. The town,
in local parlance, is called “mini Pakistan”, primarily because of the
availability of Pakistan manufactured products ranging from ordinary items
like bedsheets and sandals to silk clothing and wrist-watches in abundance.
But it is the increasing frequency of smuggled fake currency notes that has
created new worries for the police. It was only last month that the police
recovered fake currency notes worth Rs 55,000 from the town and arrested
some persons.
Talking to TNS, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Dr Anil Kumar Pandey,
explained: “People from this place are used as carriers for bringing fake
currency notes from Pakistan. The masterminds pay for all their expenses.
All they have to do is carry items like cigarettes, betelnut, gutka and pan
masala to Lahore and bring back dry fruits, silk clothes, etc. These things
are brought in bulk quantities. In these packets they conceal fake currency
notes and even arms at times. These operations are executed through the
rail route”. Dr Pandey said scrutiny by custom officials at the “Attari
border is also not up to the mark, hence the carriers scrape through
without much of a problem”.
The genesis of this whole racket, however, lies in the unusually swift
availability of a passport and a visa. An agent, Haakim, who claims to have
the right “contacts” for getting a passport and a visa for Pakistan in just
two days, told this correspondent that the passport would be in someone
else’s name. “But don’t worry we will affix your photograph to it. As the
visa will be in the name of some other person, we will erase the name with
a chemical fluid and put your name on it”.
Such agents remain tight-lipped over the intricacies of the whole exercise
but provide ample information over the kind of things that can be smuggled
from Lahore. “You must first go to Pakistan with some old hand. He will pay
you Rs 4,000. All you need is a passport and a visa. This way you can
survey the markets there and get a feel of the place. In return you will
have to carry some of his goods to India”, he says in a hushed tone.
Dr Pandey said people who had migrated to Pakistan from Kairana had
developed links with the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). They had their
relatives here. Many residents of this place who had settled in Machhli
Bazar near Jama Masjid in Delhi kept commuting between Pakistan and
Kairana. So there was a fair amount of inflow to Kairana and it was an
appropriate channel for Pakistan. That’s why the possibility of the ISI
being active here could not be ruled out, he added.
People like Haji Iqbal, Manjoora, Anees Bhoora, Riyasat, Anees Mota — all
having their roots in Kairana — are masterminding smuggling operations from
across the border. The Uttar Pradesh police conducted raids in Delhi’s
Machhli Bazar to get hold of one of these persons, but in vain. They are
believed to have settled in Pakistan now and operate through their agents
most of the time. “Earlier arms used to be smuggled but now fake currency
is in vogue”, Dr Pandey said.
Old-time here believe that extreme poverty and illiteracy are to be blamed
for bringing disrepute to the place. Mr Bashir Ahmed, Chairperson of the
Municipal Council, laments that over the years the place has earned a bad
name due to the illegal activities going on here. He refuses to dwell on
the kind of illegal activities, saying: “Everybody knows about these and I
do not find anything to be proud of in discussing these things”.
Officials say that growing unemployment and the population have been the
main factors behind the smuggling rackets flourishing here. “People make a
lot of money even by smuggling small items as the prices are lower in
Pakistan. The smuggling of narcotics, like smack, too fetches a handsome
amount. So it is worth taking a chance, that’s what the poverty-stricken
people believe”, quipped a police official.

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