Identity theft: More than 5,600 passports go missing

TAAP chairman says inside job, police says it hasn’t ruled out any possibility.


Express June 06, 2011

KARACHI:


More than 5,600 passports of Umrah travellers were reportedly stolen from the office of the Travel Agents Association of Pakistan (TAAP) in Karachi, The Express Tribune learnt on Monday. The TAAP office is located in the defunct Metropole hotel, Saddar.


Sources privy to the matter informed The Express Tribune that the FIR No. 92/11 has been registered against unidentified persons at the Artillery Maidan police station on the complaint of the office manager, Saleem Ahmed. He told the police that the office was closed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and the 17 bags containing as many as 5,634 passports of Umrah travellers were probably stolen from the office between June 5 and June 6.

All the agents of the Umrah travel agencies in Karachi submit the passports to the TAAP, which sends them to the Saudi Embassy for the visa process. The passports were stolen before they could be dispatched to the embassy, SHO Asif Munawar told The Express Tribune.

He, however, added that the police is not relying on the statement of the complainant because the crime scene did not suggest a break-in and none of the windows or locks were broken. “There were other valuable things in the office as well, including other passports. Why were only these passports stolen?”

SHO Munawar said that they are looking at “all possibilities”, and an investigation has been initiated in collaboration with the Federal Investigation Agency.  “The case will be resolved soon,” he added.

Meanwhile, TAAP Chairman Yahya Polani, while talking to The Express Tribune, called the theft a big conspiracy against TAAP. At least 25 of the stolen passports belong to foreigners, he added. “It appears that insiders are behind the incident.” The investigation team is questioning the TAAP employees, including a senior worker, Zubair, he said. “The passports are useless and no one else can use them.” He said that he was hopeful that the passports will be recovered soon. “It will be a major catastrophe if the missing passports are not recovered,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2011.

COMMENTS (91)

Zee | 10 years ago | Reply

Dear ARK,

New approvals will go, previous approvals have been cancelled. Polani can't do anything as they all along with government are involved in this...

ARK | 10 years ago | Reply

Travel Agents Association of Pakistan Karachi

Kind Attn: Mr. Yahya Polani - Chairman

Dear Mr. Yahya Polani,

Despite my several phone calls and emails reminders to you and your office staff in TAAP I have not yet received any authentic information regarding receiving of the stolen passports and CNICs by TAAP.

Every day I am calling to your TAAP office and the concerned travel agents but not yet gathered any information either our passports will be submitted to Saudi Consulate on the basis of previous approval or not. I have spent huge amount for new passports, CNICs of myself and my wife and various phone calls but it is in vain. The time is running fast but till now nothing has been done in positive manner by your Association.

I am sick and tired with the attitude of your Association which is totally failure to handle this worst situation yet.

It is being advised in your interest kindly let me know the status immediately till today evening. Please advise your concerned staff Mr. Zubair or Mr. Hafeez in TAPP Umrah Section to call me by today evening to my cell numbers and confirm the status.

Awaiting your immediate response.

Best Regards

Rafique Khan

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