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DIL 0100 — licence plate celebrating Delhi’s heart sparks forgery attempt | Latest News Delhi

Two women in their 70s, two impersonation attempts, a 1984 sedan and an alphanumeric code potentially worth 20 lakh – police and state transport officials have, for two days, tried to wrap their heads around an unusual case that has seen a clutch of people all claim ownership of “DIL 0100”, a vehicle registration number that hits eye-watering prices during auctions.

the transport department and police are now on the hunt for the real Suman Bhandari. Police visited her home on Rajpur Road in Civil Lines on Wednesday. (HT Archive)

The saga goes back at least 10 months and starts with an unassuming, mundane application.

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A woman, in her 70s, who went by the name Suman Bhandari, sent an application to the Delhi transport department to retain her old registration number, DIL 0100, for a new vehicle.

On July 4, she went to the department’s Mall Road office armed with an Aadhaar Card and a PAN card, both of which backed up her purported identity. Along with it, she had appended a photo of an 1984 Toyota sedan, with the DIL 0100 number plate at the front and back, said a transport official who asked not to be named.

For transport officials, though, something didn’t add up.

The department rejected the application, pointing out that the car’s chassis number “did not appear genuine”.

The transport department in its records keeps registration certificates (RC) that mention every car’s chassis number and the car’s alphanumeric registration number. In this case, the officer explained, the owner did not produce the RC, and when the department verified the RC from its own records, the chassis number appeared tampered with.

There’s a reason the checks are so stringent. VIP numbers such as this have a reserve price of 300,000- 500,000, which when auctioned by the transport department can go for as high as 15,00,000- 20,00,000 – unless the owner wants to retain it for a new car, in which case a nominal sum is charged by the department.

According to the department’s records, the person who owns the VIP registration number is called Suman Bhandari.

“After the application was rejected, we suggested that the woman get it verified and certified from the manufacturer to ascertain the genuineness of the chassis number embossed on the chassis frame vehicle,” said the transport department official.

On December 8 last year, the woman reapplied to the appellant authority – the special commissioner of transport – who called a hearing on April 9 at the DTC headquarters. This time too, the woman appeared with all the documents, including a printout of the purported verification email from the car manufacturer, said the official.

But on being asked why she was here, instead of saying that she wanted to retain the old VIP registration number, the woman said that she was at the DTC headquarters for a pension related matter. “She seemed confused and under-confident,” said the transport department official.

Suspicion rose, and the official said that on being further probed, the woman confessed that her name was Vimla, not Suman Bhandari; that she hailed from Bihar; owned no car; and was asked by an acquaintance from Kirti Nagar to “perform this role.”

“We lodged a complaint with the police and handed her over,” said a second transport department official.

Rakesh Kumar, the district transport officer (DTO), at the IP Estate police station filed a complaint and a case under sections 410 (cheating by impersonation), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using as genuine a forged document) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was filed, said deputy commissioner of police (central) Harsha Vardhan.

“We apprehended the impersonator, an elderly woman named Vimla, who is employed as a domestic help in East Azad Nagar near Krishna Nagar in east Delhi. She disclosed that she was brought there by one Aashish (police did not disclose last name), a person known to her,” said an investigator, who asked not to be named.

Aashish was apprehended by the police on the same day.

“He said that he is an MBA graduate, who is now a manager at a private company. He disclosed that his brother-in-law, a businessman, had asked him to take Vimla to the DTC headquarters, where she had to represent herself as Suman Bhandari, the original owner of vehicle registration number – DIL 0100 – before the officials as a part of the procedure to retain the number for a new vehicle. He said that his brother-in-law is currently in New Zealand,” said the investigator.

Meanwhile, the transport department and police are now on the hunt for the real Suman Bhandari. Police visited her home on Rajpur Road in Civil Lines on Wednesday.

“The house was locked when our team went there. We are making efforts to locate and contact the real owner, to ascertain if she had applied to retain the VIP number on a new vehicle, and if the registration number is still being used on her car,” said the investigator.

And till police zero in on the real Suman Bhandari, DIL 0100 must gather valuable dust, till it finds another car to adorn.

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