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It was third time unlucky for 'trafficking' MP
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April 19, 2007 23:39 IST

The police have claimed that Bharatiya Janata Partry MP Babubhai Katara, who was arrested while trying to take a woman to Canada on his wife's passport, had smuggled people out of the country for monetary gains twice in the past.

Katara, who was arrested on Wednesday at the Delhi airport, had struck a deal of Rs 27 lakh with Paramjeet Kaur through a travel agent but the money had not changed hands, a senior police official said.

Investigations have revealed that Katara had travelled to the United States and Britain in 2005 and 2006 and had taken women along with him on his wife's passport. It has also come to light that he had forged arrival stamps on the passport to show that they had returned.

"Katara had himself given the passports to Paramjeet and the teenaged boy. His aide Rajendra Singh is also involved in the deal. The payment was to be made after they reach Canada," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Neeraj Thakur said.

He said Paramjeet, hailing from Hoshiarpur in Punjab, wanted to go the United States to live with her husband, who works there. The boy also has relatives in the US and his parents had struck the deal through a travel agent. The police is now hunting for at least two travel agents and the MP's aide and have sent special teams to several states including Punjab and Gujarat.

The name of a Hyderabad- based agent has also come to light during the interrogation but police would not give any details.

The police are also investigating the role of immigration officials in the incident and are not ruling out the possibility of involvement of other politicians in the human trafficking network.

"Everybody's role is open to investigation... After one day of investigation we cannot rule out anything," Thakur said on a day when a local court remanded the Dahod MP to 11 days in police custody.

"If there are any lapses, we will bring it to the notice of the authorities concerned," the officer said when asked whether the role of immigration officials is under the scanner.

Investigators are also verifying the bank accounts and financial transactions of the MP to find out details of the earlier payments that he had received for smuggling people out of the country.

Police believe Babubhai's arrest could be the tip of the iceberg and their investigations into the case could lead to unravelling of human trafficking rackets operating in north India.

The police have also recovered three passports, two of them belonging to his relatives, from the MP and are grilling him to find out his intention to carry the passports with him to Canada, where he was going on a tourist visa. Sources said the preliminary probe has revealed that one Sandhu along with Joginder Singh, both hailing from Punjab, had struck a deal with the secretary of the MP for taking Paramjeet and the minor boy to Canada.

Meanwhile, Paramjeet was remanded in five days police custody. The boy was also sent to judicial custody by a juvenile court.

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