While it is mandatory for immigration consultants, ticket agents and IELTS coaching institutes to get registered under the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act, 2012, the administration’s hands are tied even if these businesses forego registration.
Reason: Punjab and Haryana high court following a writ petition by some immigration consultants has stayed any action under the Act.
However, experts share that criminal proceedings can still be initiated against those accused of fraud.
Number of people duped by Immigration companies:
As per police records, over 500 cases of immigration frauds have been registered in SAS Nagar since 2011. But the figure of actual frauds is much higher, claim sources in the police.
The maximum cases were reported in 2012 and 2013, at 163 and 188 respectively. Two of the consultants had over 60 cases registered against them. The police consider it as their biggest breakthrough in immigration frauds so far.
In 2012, Neena Sharma, owner of Gurkirpa Enterprises and Sai Kirpa Enterprises, an immigration consultant firm, was arrested with as many as 55 cases of immigration frauds registered against her. Most of the cases are pending in court, with Sharma out on bail.
Earlier in 2011, 60 cases of cheating were registered against the staff and owners of Jet Immigration Company, SAS Nagar. Dolly Arora, one of the owners, was arrested, and is currently in custody. These cases are also pending in court.
Police nexus cannot be ruled out
Those in business in hushed voices speak of police nexus responsible for mushrooming of immigration consultants and most doing business without any check and balance.
Sharing, a consultant said, “The police no doubt have to be kept in good humour. Even if business is being done properly, they will find ways to interfere and create hurdles, so those in business also don’t mind taking care of interests of police, if that makes matters easy for them.”
Another consultant said, “The sudden crackdowns and then again a lull by police can directly be linked to nexus between business owners and police. It is an open secret that immigration business nowadays is a vulnerable business and keeping good relations with police is in the best interest of the business owners.”
However, SAS Nagar senior superintendent of police (SSP) Gurpreet Singh Bhullar rubbished these claims. “We take each and every complaint seriously, but need support from people for proper check and crackdown.”
“Keeping police in good humour is all baseless. We are open to complaints against police also, but people need to come out. They should treat police as their friend and are welcome to come and talk about anything bothering them. Any complaint against anyone will be dealt as per law,” he added.