Cops fight forgery menace

Gangs prepare fake EWS certificates for admission to reputed nursery schools

After unearthing the fake certificates and marksheets racket involving former Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar, Delhi Police’s prime focus at the moment is to investigate a fake admissions racket being run under the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota in prominent schools of the capital in collusion with school administration.

The principal of Bal Bharti School in north west Delhi’s Pitampura is also under the scanner with her office being raided to seize documents.

Police say such rackets are highly organised as the gangs have to obtain fake documents under the EWS quota and later get the names and quota changed in school records with the help of school administration.

The kingpin, Mukesh Sharma, has revealed how he managed the business with accomplices Anil Kumar, Sudama Singh and Sharam Singh. While Anil sent admission seekers to Mukesh, Sudama arranged the forged documents. Dharam prepared and finalised the forged documents.

“Mukesh has a Masters in Zoology and gave home tuition. While being involved in the admission process of someone known to him, he learned about the EWS quota in schools. He then developed contacts in the school’s administration and set up the racket. The gang charged Rs 3-10 lakh for each admission,” says Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav.

Police had started investigating the racket a few months ago after receiving information about certain irregular admissions.

Under the Right to Education Act, 25 per cent seats are reserved for students from EWS.

According to the Department of Education rules, there are two requirements for EWS candidates – they have to submit proof of residence such as voter card or utility bill, and income proof which may be an income certificate and BPL card or food security card.

Those staying within a kilometre would be given priority. The slabs are 1 km, 3 km, 6 km and beyond 6 km.

Later, the school administration will conduct a draw of lots in the presence of DoE’s observer.

As part of the initial probe, a police team led by Assistant Commissioner of Police K P S Malhotra checked the EWS certificates used for admissions in several schools.

The racket was unearthed when verification from Sub-Divisional Magistrate offices revealed that some of the documents were forged.

Investigation revealed that multiple admissions had taken place in different schools on the basis of the same certificates and names of the students were later changed.

Anil Kumar was among the leaders of the racket whose foot soldiers included even tea stall owners and ice cream vendors around schools.

“They would spot and direct desperate parents to Mukesh and his accomplices,” Yadav adds. The parents were convinced about the safety of the scheme and guaranteed a seat before they were taken to Mukesh’s office to finalise the deal.

“The parents were never informed that their child was being admitted under the EWS quota. Then, apart from making their forged EWS certificates, the gang also made a forged residential certificate for the parents,” says Ashok Chand, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime). Anil has confessed that he bought fake certificates from Sudama Singh for Rs 1,000 and sold them to Mukesh for Rs 15,000.

Extensive operation

The gang prepared forged residential certificates and showed that the student’s house was located under the radius of 250 metres near the school in question.

If any parent came to know later that they got admission through the EWS quota, they were assured that an application along with their genuine income certificate would be provided to the school after around six months.

Another accused, Dharam Singh, had worked as a driver and sold CDs and vegetables before he started forging certificates.

At first, he merely submitted people’s documents at the SDM office and obtained certificates from there for Rs 200-400. But later, he started supplying photocopies of certificates with the particulars changed. Amit, his computer-savvy aide, made this possible.

“Six police teams are working to identify the different modules active in Delhi. It seems one module is handling only some of the schools. The possibility that they may be working under one syndicate cannot be denied at the moment,” Chand adds.

Apart from the industry of fake documents, Delhi is also considered to be the hub of counterfeit goods.

Anything from cosmetic products, packaged items of common use, electronic appliances, computer accessories and auto parts mobile phone accessories are manufactured and sold here. It has forced multinational corporations like Philips, Hindustan Unilever, Samsung, Bajaj, Reebok, Revlon, Adidas, Woodland, Sony, Ponds, Nike, Dove and Heinz to regularly raise an alarm and lodge complaints with the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police.

“These goods find their way into the market and are often sold as genuine products at the price of a regular item,” says S D Mishra, Deputy Commissioner of Police (EOW).

According to a report by industry body Assocham, besides being a big market for fake products, the capital is also the main transit point for the sale of such goods.

Gaffar Market is one of the largest markets in the country for counterfeit and smuggled products in the categories of mobile phones and accessories, cosmetic items and commonly used electronic appliances, while in Sadar Bazar, one can get all sorts of fake items.

Kashmere Gate is known for auto parts markets with some shops selling fake branded auto spares at one fifth the original price or less, while Nehru Place has computer accessories markets with pirated software and fake hardware.

Explaining the techniques adopted by the manufacturers, a police officer said: “The manufactures have started using advanced machines. To make it appear original, they also use computerised and digital machines to write prices, manufacturing dates and batch numbers on the packets.”

“You can't make out the difference between real and fake”, he adds.

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