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Immigration scams taint RAW

Josy Joseph in New Delhi | November 05, 2003 02:24 IST

The immigration racket allegedly run by Indian mission staffers in Britain is only one of many.

A sizeable number of officials accused in such scams are officials of the Research and Analysis Wing, who are deputed to Indian missions for clandestine operations.

The scam in Britain came to light last year after the Scotland Yard arrested several Indians and found evidence of their involvement. An attaché was recalled to India and the entire consular section in Britain was overhauled.

Some officials of the high commission in London and consular offices in Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh were suspected to be involved.

The Ministry of External Affairs has now handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation, which is forming a team to probe the case.

According to sources, the racket involved forging of Indian passports.

The CBI is already investigating another major scandal in a mission in Africa.

There have been several such cases in consular sections of Indian missions in foreign countries. RAW officials are deputed to this section because of the public access they enjoy and potential for gathering intelligence.

It obviously is an embarrassment for RAW and gives some credence to arguments that there should be a cut in the number of foreign posts held by RAW in Indian missions.

In Tanzania hundreds of cases were unearthed a couple of years back. A senior IPS officer on deputation from RAW was recalled and the case was handed over to the CBI. The allegation was that the officer was issuing long-term visas but receipts submitted to the MEA showed the visas were for short period. The fee for long-term visa was almost 100 times more than that of short-term visa.

The Indian Foreign Service also does not have a clean record. In Trinidad and Tobago it was an IFS officer who was involved.

NRIS had filed several allegations against an IFS officer posted at a senior post in the United States last year. An inquiry conducted by the MEA could not find any evidence and the officer was absolved.

Sources say that the visa and passport sections enjoy vast freedom and discretion that abet such rackets. Unless that is controlled and a foolproof system is evolved this will continue, they say.

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