Once, a young boy who used to sell fruits at a railway station to pay for his college fees ended up orchestrating a massive scam that shook the entire country. Why did the government legalize the country’s biggest scam? A scam in which prominent politicians and government officials were involved but managed to escape? This is the story of a middle-class boy who, tired of his daily life’s problems and failures, took the wrong path and quickly became a millionaire, but…
The Genesis of Abdul Karim Telgi
Abdul Karim Telgi was born in Khanapur, Karnataka, where his father held a respectable position in the railways, providing stability for the family. Unfortunately, Abdul’s father passed away when he was only 7 years old, destabilizing the family. Despite these challenges, Abdul, as the eldest son, took on the responsibility of supporting the family by selling fruits at Khanapur station. He managed to complete his schooling and college education while juggling his fruit-selling business.
Facing difficulties in finding a stable job, Abdul moved to Mumbai after trying various options. However, after switching jobs twice, he found himself yearning for something bigger, like many middle-class youth. Influenced by the rapid development in Saudi Arabia, he decided to move there. He spent several years working in Saudi Arabia before returning to Mumbai. Back in Mumbai, Abdul began searching for shortcuts to earn more money in less time.
Forging a Path Through Fraud
Abdul realized that many people wanted to work in the Middle East but were held back by document-related obstacles. Seizing this opportunity, he started manipulating documents to facilitate emigration. He became so adept at this that he managed to evade detection for a while.
Eventually, the police caught wind of his activities, leading to his arrest in 1991. While in jail, Abdul’s thoughts turned to his future, and he met Ratan Soni, a seasoned criminal who introduced him to more significant fraudulent activities involving stamp papers. Soni, with his knowledge of stamp paper fraud, guided Abdul into larger-scale scams.
The Rise and Fall of the Stamp Paper Empire
They partnered to start their operations, collaborating with politicians, government officials, and the underworld. The scam began modestly, using counterfeit stamp papers, but soon escalated. To expand their reach, they acquired a stamp paper printing machine, ink, and paper through a connection in a Nashik printing press auction.
However, disagreements between Abdul and Soni caused them to part ways. Abdul continued the scam alone, driven by greed. He recruited 350 MBA graduates to sell the fake stamp papers at significant discounts to companies, banks, and stock brokerages. The scam flourished, making Abdul and his accomplices wealthy, including politicians, government officials, and underworld figures.
The Enigmatic Conclusion
Abdul became a master of his trade, even creating a shortage of genuine government stamp papers to boost demand for his counterfeit ones. The scam spread to more than 20 states, with involvement from politicians and government officials. The scam came to the police’s attention when they intercepted a truck carrying counterfeit stamp papers. A covert investigation was initiated, culminating in the arrest of Abdul in Ajmer.
The case was handed over to the Special Investigation Team (SIT), which uncovered involvement from politicians, government officials, and Bollywood actors through a narcotics test on Abdul. However, an SIT officer’s mysterious death led to the case being transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The investigation revealed the full extent of Abdul’s scams and assets.
In 2006, Abdul was sentenced to 30 years in prison and fined 202 crore rupees. He passed away in jail in 2017, with his lawyer claiming he was murdered. Many believe that this massive scam involved significant figures who, like in the Harshad Mehta case, were allowed to escape prosecution. In 2018, due to a lack of evidence against other accused individuals, they were released.
The government’s decision to declare the entire scam legal was based on the realization that numerous legal transactions unknowingly involved fake stamp papers. If the government had declared it illegal, property deals, marriages, and agreements could have been rendered invalid, potentially leading to the collapse of the entire system. It is estimated that this scam was worth 32,000–40,000 crore rupees.
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