Shiv Pujan Jha, CNN-IBN, May 15, 2006
Amritsar: It has been more than 55 years since the makers of the Constitution decided to implement the policy of 'positive discrimination' for the 'socially oppressed' sections of Indian society. But over the years, the provision has been blatantly misused to get unfair advantage.
While the agitation over reservation for Other Backward Classes in institutes of higher learning has reached a crescendo, an undercover business of providing fake OBC certificates is thriving in the bylanes of various north Indian states.
The whispers that one can procure fake documents to gain leverage in government jobs have been doing the rounds for quite some time. CNN-IBN Special Investigation Team followed the trail and exposed the goings-on and even managed tp procure a fake certificate from Amritsar in Punjab.
Mani runs a thriving business of fake certificates and employs at least four middlemen or dalals in native parlance. He is just one of the many gateways for such documents, even ones that declare an "upper-caste" person as belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe (SC/STs).
When CNN-IBN team approached him for a Scheduled Caste certificate, he promised to deliver that within two days for as little as Rs 1,000 as advance payment.
The money ensured that no other documents or proofs of identity were required. Mani even filled in a fictitious address and name on insistnece.
"When I will give you the certificate, I will take you along to get it checked," he said.
After four days of running around, Mani, finally introduced the CNN-IBN team to the area councillor Surinder Choudhary, who seemed ready to oblige.
He thought it unnecessary to demand any proof of identity and did not even ask one question.
Choudhary signed the documents unconditionally and directed us to his office to get it stamped.
The rest of the work was easy. An agent of Mani got the required signatures from the tehsildar (District Officer) and other officials.
The agent, Sonu, after deducting his commission, handed over the Scheduled Caste certificate.
"2969 is the registration number. Your name has been registered. There would be no problem," he said.
Our next stop was the local Tehsil office in Amritsar where an official confirmed the validity of the fake certificate and listed it in the district record book.
While the certificate was procured under a fictitious name using illegal methods, the intention was not to take law for granted or to create a sensation.
It is also not for the first time that the phenomenon of bogus caste certificates for getting admissions/jobs has been done.
But with the return of quota controversy, it's timely to project that instances like this are commonplace not only in Amritsar but in other parts of the country as well.