Passport check foils escape of Dawood aide

KOLKATA: The Khagragarh blast came as a blessing in disguise for the Bengal administration which raised the red flag when a dreaded Delhi criminal — with alleged links to Dawood Ibrahim — was planning to flee to Thailand using a fake passport procured from the state.

Police sources said that the gangster was being supported by a former MLA from Delhi — Rambeer Shokeen — to procure a passport on fictitious name from Burdwan.

Sources in the special cell of Delhi Police said that the gangster, Neeraj Bawana, had hoped that Dawood would help him settle down in Dubai once he placed his credentials before the D-gang in Thailand.

Neeraj had fled to Kolkata in March 2014 after Delhi Police announced a reward on him. He hid in a posh South Kolkata residence for five months before turning to a New Town-based gang of touts that helps Bangladeshis acquire Indian ID papers. The gang helped him open a bank account in Burdwan. He took a new name — Suraj — to apply for the new passport. Neeraj had also contacted a few Kolkata-based criminals — one living at Rania in Garia and another in Rajarhat — to provide him men for his new “base” either in Singapore or in Thailand.

However, by the time he appeared for his customary passport interview, the Khagragarh blast of October 2, 2014, had already taken place. A police verification could not establish Neeraj’s Burdwan address, which he used to open a bank account there.

Neeraj spent more than Rs 1 lakh trying to secure the passport. He told cops during the verification that he was a clothes merchant who needed to visit foreign shores to expand his business. But the passport authorities kept it pending following a warning from home ministry that all passport applications “needed to be screened thoroughly in the aftermath of the blast”. The home ministry advisory had hinted at the possibility that terrorists of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, who were responsible for the Khagragarh blast, might try to fly out to safer destinations by getting new passports.

In a 185-page chargesheet filed against Neeraj and nine others, including former MLA Shokeen, the special cell of Delhi Police said that Neeraj was “in a hurry to leave the country as several security agencies were on his trail”. “Neeraj’s passport application was pending police verification. But the Burdwan address he gave in support of his passport application could not be verified,” said a source in the police.

“Neeraj was planning to establish a new base in Singapore or Thailand. With a foreign base, he would have continued travelling to India on a fictitious identity to keep his crime syndicate business running,” police claimed in the chargesheet filed before additional sessions judge Neena Bansal Krishna.

Dreaded Delhi criminal Neeraj Bawana’s passport application on fake Burdwan address came under lens during police verification process that was made stringent following the Khagragarh blast.


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