India Politics
Andhra legislator surrenders in human trafficking scam
May 10, 2007 - 5:12:39 PM

Hyderabad, May 10 - Telangana Rashtra Samiti - legislator Soyam Bapu Rao Thursday surrendered in the human trafficking case - the second member of the party to do so. But he claimed he had been falsely implicated.

Rao, a rebel TRS legislator, went to the Central Crime Station of Hyderabad police surrendered himself. Police took him into custody and began questioning him.

Hyderabad police had last week registered a criminal case against him on charges of securing passports for others in the name of his wife and two children.

Rao, who had gone underground after his name cropped up during investigations, represents Boath constituency in Adilabad district.

Claiming that he is innocent, the legislator blamed TRS president K. Chandrasekhara Rao for falsely implicating him in the case. 'I am a tribal. I don't know what is a passport or visa,' he said. However, he admitted meeting Mohammed Rasheed Ali, a travel agent and key accused in the scam now in judicial custody.

Talking to newsmen, Rao said he submitted passport applications for his family members to Rasheed but denied pasting photographs of others on the applications.

He said he came into contact with Rasheed through his party colleague Kasipeta Linagaiah, who is also in judicial custody.

Lingaiah, who represents Nerella constituency in Karimnagar district, had surrendered to police on April 27. He is also charged with obtaining a passport for another woman in the name of his wife.

Both Bapu Rao and Lingaiah were offered huge money by Rasheed for helping others obtain passports and visa in the name of their family members.

Lingaiah has told police that lure of money and an all expenses-paid Europe trip made him indulge in the fraud.

He admitted that he went to the US consulate at Chennai with an unidentified woman for visa interview and falsely represented her as his wife.

The rebel TRS MLA said Rasheed promised to pay 50 percent of the money the woman would pay if she secured the visa. The visa was reportedly declined.

Lingaiah said he was reluctant to attend the interview but agreed when Rasheed explained that none in the US consulate would verify the facts.

The MLA said he did not remember the name of the woman but could identify her if she was produced before him.

He said he gave his passport application and that of his 'family members' to Rasheed. The Karimnagar district police, however, rejected his request for clearance certificate, citing two pending criminal cases against him including one relating to demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992. He said he was jailed for 15 days in Varanasi central jail in connection with the demolition case.

He made a startling revelation that Rasheed later managed to get a passport for him and a passport for another woman in the name of his wife.

Lingaiah told the police during interrogation that he met Rasheed at the office of suspended TRS MP Narendra. Dilip, an aide of Narendra, reportedly introduced him to Rasheed.

TRS president had suspended Narendra last month when his name cropped up during investigations.

Rasheed had surrendered to police on May 3, after remaining underground for over two weeks. A leader of the Telugu Desam Party - and former corporator Muzaffer Ali Khan was arrested the same day for sheltering him.

Rasheed named Rajupitti, a bookie, and Mohammed Shakeel, a TDP leader, as the kingpins of the racket. Both are absconding. Police are also probing allegations made by Rasheed against some leaders of TRS and TDP.

The scam surfaced in New Delhi last month when Bharatiya Janata Party - MP Babubhai Katara was caught at the airport while trying to smuggle out a woman and a teenage boy to Toronto on the passports of his family.

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