“The Telgi Story” premiered on September 1, featuring the acclaimed creator of the hit web series “Scam 1992,” Hansal Mehta, who served as the creative director for the second installment of the Scam franchise. This web series, adapted from Sanjay Singh’s piece, “Telgi Scam: Reporter’s ki Diary,” is now accessible for streaming on SonyLIV. Let’s delve into the life of Abdul Karim Telgi, the central character in this narrative.
Abdul Karim Telgi, a name synonymous with disgrace in India, orchestrated one of the nation’s most infamous counterfeiting scandals. Born in 1961, Telgi’s life was a fusion of ambition, ingenuity, and criminality, culminating in a counterfeit empire that reverberated throughout India’s financial institutions.
Telgi’s early years were marked by adversity. His father, an Indian Railways employee, passed away when Telgi was just a child. To fund his education, he resorted to peddling fruits and vegetables on trains. Subsequently, Telgi ventured to Saudi Arabia, only to return seven years later with a novel, unorthodox career path in mind—counterfeiting.
**The Empire of Counterfeits:**
Initially, Telgi concentrated on the forgery of passports and even established a business called Arabian Metro Travels to facilitate labor migration to Saudi Arabia. His company churned out counterfeit documents, enabling laborers to bypass immigration checks, a practice colloquially known as “pushing” in the industry.
However, Telgi soon redirected his focus toward a more lucrative venture—counterfeit stamp paper. He assembled a network of 300 agents to disseminate these forged documents to bulk purchasers, including banks, insurance companies, and stock brokerage firms. The scale of this operation was staggering, with an estimated worth of around ₹30,000 crore.
The scandal was so widespread that it ensnared numerous police officers and government officials. In 2006, Telgi was ultimately sentenced to 30 years of rigorous imprisonment. The following year, he received an additional 13-year sentence and was slapped with a fine of ₹202 crore.
**Personal Life and Demise:**
Telgi was renowned for his extravagant lifestyle, including frequent visits to dance bars. There were even reports suggesting a romantic entanglement with a bar dancer named Tarannumn Khan, whom he purportedly lavished with ₹90 lakh in a single evening at the bar.
Tragically, Abdul Karim Telgi’s life met a sudden end in 2017, primarily due to meningitis, compounded by longstanding health ailments like diabetes and hypertension.
In retrospect, Abdul Karim Telgi emerges as a multifaceted figure—a man who embarked from humble beginnings and ascended to construct an empire, albeit one erected on morally questionable foundations.