//Visa power faked, couple arrested

Visa power faked, couple arrested

Pankaj Vohra and Tushar Srivastava, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 10, 2006
A Noida-based couple allegedly tried to gain undue advantage by fraudulently exploiting the Gandhi surname. The Delhi Police on Sunday arrested them for getting a United States visa issued to an executive of the Shridi Sai Trust by giving the embassy the impression that Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi was keen on it.

The couple — Manoj Arora and wife Sapna — run a costume-jewellery business and a visa-facilitation centre in Noida. They were allegedly caught when the US embassy called Rahul’s office to say that following his request, a visa had been issued to one Banu Saheb Wakachuri. The Congress MP’s office denied that any such request had been made by, or on behalf of Rahul.

A senior police official on condition of anonymity said Manoj called the embassy claiming to be P Madhvan, OSD to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Since this was a case of impersonation, Rahul’s personal assistant Kanishka Singh filed a complaint with the Tughlaq Road police station on Saturday.

Senior officials of the US embassy were unavailable for comment.

The Aroras were traced as Manoj had made the call from his mobile phone. He had apparently promised a US official in the visa section that he might be able to arrange a meeting with Rahul if the request was heeded. When the caller failed to honour his commitment, the official contacted Rahul’s staff.

The Aroras have been remanded in eight days’ police custody. A police officer said: "The Aroras have been running the visa-facilitation centre for some time and the possibility of them having duped other embassies cannot be ruled out."

The incident, meanwhile, is being viewed with concern by the Special Protection Group which is in charge of Rahul's and his mother Sonia's security.

Email Pankaj Vohra: [email protected]
Email Tushar Srivastava: [email protected]