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Who was Abdul Karim Telgi?

"Scam 2003: The Telgi Story" web series, unraveling Telgi's scam, is set to release on September 2nd at Sony Liv

Abdul Karim Telgi’s journey began in humble circumstances. Born on July 29, 1961, in Belgaum, Karnataka, he faced early adversity with the loss of his father. To pursue his education, he resorted to selling fruits and vegetables on trains, a testament to his tenacity. After a stint in Saudi Arabia, he returned to India and entered the world of forgery. It started innocuously with fake passports and documents, but soon, Telgi had bigger plans.

“Scam 2003: The Telgi Story” takes us back to a time when India was grappling with another massive financial scandal that shook the nation. The notorious mastermind behind this saga was Abdul Karim Telgi, a man who orchestrated a sprawling web of deceit and counterfeit that redefined the boundaries of financial fraud.

The foundation of the Stamp Paper Scam was laid in 1992. Telgi hatched a multi-pronged scheme that involved both producing counterfeit stamp documents and manipulating the availability of legitimate ones. To execute this plan, he reportedly bribed officials at the Indian Security Press in Maharashtra, tapping into their knowledge and resources to manufacture fake documents. This intricate operation included an array of counterfeit items: stamp papers, judicial court fee stamps, revenue stamps, and a slew of other legal documents, amounting to a staggering value of over Rs 30,000 crore.

The ingenious aspect of Telgi’s operation was his orchestration of an artificial scarcity of genuine stamp papers. This scarcity created the perfect environment for his counterfeit papers to thrive. The scam took root and spread across states, ensnaring unsuspecting victims and casting a shadow over the regulatory systems that were supposed to prevent such malfeasance.

The unravelling of the scam came about through a twist of fate. In August 2000, two individuals transporting counterfeit stamp papers were apprehended in Bengaluru. Their revelations led to a series of raids that unearthed more counterfeit documents. Amidst this, Telgi managed to evade capture initially.

However, justice was relentless in pursuing the mastermind. Between 1992 and 2002, numerous cases were registered against Telgi in Maharashtra and other states. Despite attempts to escape the consequences, Telgi’s luck ran out when he was apprehended in November 2001. His arrest was a turning point in the investigation, revealing the extent of his operation and the involvement of high-ranking officials.

Telgi’s claim of being a small part of a larger network involving influential figures sparked the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) called “STAMPIT.” Led by IPS Officer Sri Kumar, the SIT worked to uncover the truth. The investigation culminated in a charge sheet filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in 2004. Telgi’s subsequent imprisonment didn’t deter his illicit operations; his manipulation continued even from behind bars.

The fallout from the scam exposed the frailties of India’s administrative and regulatory systems. Calls for reform and enhanced transparency reverberated across the nation. The pursuit of justice led to the arrest of high-ranking police officials and politicians who had aided Telgi’s enterprise.

In 2005, Telgi faced a significant tax demand and a daunting prison sentence. However, his life eventually came to an end in 2017, due to multiple health issues. Posthumously, in 2018, the Nashik session court cleared Telgi and others of the charges, citing a lack of evidence.

“Scam 2003: The Telgi Story” follows in the footsteps of its successful predecessor, “Scam 1992,” to illuminate the dark corridors of financial crime. The show promises to unravel the intricate layers of Telgi’s life and his audacious criminal enterprise. Set to release on September 2, this series offers an opportunity to revisit history and reflect on the importance of vigilance and accountability in safeguarding financial systems.

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