'Telgi exploited a fouled system to run his mega scam'

'Telgi exploited a fouled system to run his mega scam'

 From a fruit vendor at Khanapur railway station near Belagavi to becoming the kingpin of the multi-crore fake stamp paper racket, Abdul Karim "Lala" Telgi has persistently exploited the fouled system.

So much so that even after the magnitude of the fake stamp paper racket came to light, Telgi continued to find a market to circulate fake stamps. The investigation by Stamp Paper Investigation Team (STAMPIT) then revealed that had Telgi sold the fake stamps seized after his arrest in 2001, he would have made around Rs 3,000 crore.

Telgi's father was a class-4 employee in the Railways in Mizoram. After his father's death, Telgi moved to Khanapur and sold fruits at the railway station and completed his BCom at Sarvodaya Vidyalaya. After working in Saudi Arabia for some time, Telgi returned in 1990 and opened a shop in Mumbai — Metro Exports.

"He was first arrested in Mumbai in a fake visa case. Telgi met another scamster Ram Ratan Soni in Mumbai prison. He and Soni hatched the plan to print fake stamp papers. Telgi and Soni sold fake stamp papers across Maharashtra and spread the network to other states. Supply of stamp papers was on need basis and there was no check and balance either. Telgi bribed many retired employees of India Security Press and kept printing and supplying fake stamps,'' a senior police officer, part of STAMPIT told DH.

Telgi was first arrested in a fake stamp paper case in 1995. The Mumbai police had seized a few fake stamp papers. By then, Telgi's fake stamp empire had spread fast and using money and political clout, he managed to come out on bail. He also ensured that his associates got bail in cases registered in Hyderabad, Chennai, Delhi and Vadodara. He employed MBA graduates for his marketing network. Since supply of stamp papers through official channels was slow, agencies and companies, whether they required them or not, started buying papers in bulk.

Bengaluru case nails Telgi

Seizure of fake stamp papers in Upparpet police station limits on August 19, 2000 opened the Pandora's Box. Two accused trying to supply the papers — Badruddin and Vittal — revealed Telgi's name.

Subsequent raids at Sai Enterprises in Upparpet and a house in RT Nagar led to further seizure of papers worth Rs 12 crore. The state government formed STAMPIT, headed by IPS officer R Srikumar. The STAMPIT team arrested Telgi on November 7, 2001 in Ajmer.

Operation from prion

STAMPIT found that Telgi was using more than 10 mobile phones and two pagers from within the Parappana Agrahara prison.

The officials kept a close watch and tapped the entire conversation. The conversation revealed vital leads to the investigating team and led to the arrest of many accused. STAMPIT investigated six cases in Karnataka and filed the charge sheet. Along with other documents, the police also submitted conversation of 1,200 hours.

Case handed over to CBI

Based on the PIL filed by Anna Hazare and others, the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe in 2004.

The investigation revealed several names in the racket. MLA from Himayatnagar constituency in Hyderabad C Krishna Yadav, MLA from Maharashtra Anil Gote and former minister from Andhra Pradesh C B K Yadav were arrested. Several police officers, including former Mumbai police commissioner R S Sharma and Sangram Singh and Vali Basha from Karnataka, were arrested.

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