Lucknow: In a bizarre incident, the department of posts has allegedly released two postal stamps of Rs 5 denomination of dubious antecedents.
One carries the photograph of underworld don Chhota Rajan, a former associate of Dawood Ibrahim, and the other of gangster Munna Bajrangi, who was killed in a turf war in Baghpat jail in Uttar Pradesh in 2018. Chhota Rajan, in fact, is still serving a jail term.
Journalist Abhishek Gupta of Hindi daily Hindustan carried out a sting operation which exposed the glaring lacunae in the "My Stamp" scheme started by the Department of Posts in 2017; under this scheme, anybody can obtain 12 valid postal stamps with own or any relative's photo by depositing just Rs 300 and use these like any other stamp affixed on envelop for postal delivery.
The journalist carried out the sting operation at the Head Post office of Kanpur, approaching them as a common citizen. He filled up two forms in the name of Rajendra S Nikhalje, the real name of Chhota Rajan, and Prem Prakash Singh, the real name of Bajrangi, and submitted their photographs, along with his own identity card.
The post office clerk enquired about the two and was satisfied on being told that they are "relatives." Without any further inquiry, the postal stamps of the two gangsters were issued. Neither the photographs were checked, nor was any attempt made to vouch for their identity.
When confronted later, Post Master General V K Verma said the applicant has to personally come to the post office and his photo is taken using a webcam. When told about the stamps of two gangsters being issued, he simply brushed aside the query saying an inquiry will be conducted if such an incident has happened. India Post reserves the right not to print an image submitted if in its opinion such an image is unacceptable.
India Post has launched a probe into the matter. “The applicant neither submitted his Aadhaar card, nor were his forms complete. The tickets were released within an hour of submission of the application. The philately department is under the scanner,” sources said. Incidentally, a personalised stamp can only be issued in the name of a living person.