Nobody knows for sure how and why was he issued the passport in such a great hurry, that too with a fake residential address.
According to information tumbling out from the regional passport office (RPO) in Patna, Hasan Ali applied for the passport on April 3, 1997, and was issued the same on April 10, 1997, without any police verification.
Surprisingly, the police verification report was submitted to the RPO on June 25, 1997, more than two months after the money-launderer was issued the passport. Though Ali had given the residential address of Alamganj locality in Patna, he had mentioned Hyderabad as his birth place while submitting the personal data form.
But the RPO apparently erred while overlooking the fact that in the main application form for passport he had mentioned Belsand in Sitamarhi district of Bihar as his birth place.
The list of goof-ups does not end here. The police verification report shows that Ali was present at Alamganj when the cops actually ‘visited his residence’. Even the special branch has corroborated the report saying that there was no crime case pending against him at Alamganj police station.
Senior SP of Patna Alok Kumar, who is closely monitoring the case, says that the then passport officer, police officials as well as special branch officers would be identified and interrogated. “We will look into the case from all angles,” he said and added that the billionaire tax-evader did not receive a passport from Patna only.
The first passport was issued to him in Hyderabad in 1986, the second one in Patna in 1997 and the third one from London in 2003. After Ali lost his passport, he got two more passports issued in 2005 from Pune and Mumbai. It is believed that the hawala racketeer had also applied for passport from Chandigarh and Guwahati, but could not succeed.
The matter would have remained under wraps had the Enforcement Directorate not begun investigations into Ali’s case. It was in 2007 when the ED sleuths asked the passport offices in Pune, Mumbai and Patna to lodge an FIR against Ali for possessing multiple passports. While Mumbai police registered the case and revoked the passport, the RPO in Patna sat over the ED directive for three years.
It was only after repeated reminders from the ED that a case under section 420, 467, 468, 471 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was lodged at the Kotwali police station in Patna in December 2010.
A source in Patna said that ministry of external affairs (MEA) had issued directions to the RPO in 1997 to issue the passport to Ali in two days time, “and a person was specially designated to receive it.” That particular person was the bodyguard of a senior politician, who was earlier in-charge of affairs in Bihar Congress.
The constable Ashok Kumar, who actually received the passport, has been identified but is untraced. Besides, during the police verification, there were two witnesses Raju and Mahesh (both residents of Alamganj) who had approved Ali’s said address in Alamganj.
Police are looking for them too as nobody now knows about their whereabouts.
And the main source of evidence of all — the then passport officer M N Prasad, who actually issued the passport and, therefore, would have thrown more light on the issue, is no more. He died few years back.
As the investigating authorities continue to grope in the dark, chances are that more such Alis would tumble out of Patna RPO cupboard. Some years back, terror mastermind in Kolkata blast Farhan Malik and Aftab Ansari too were found to have been issued passport from the Patna office.