Sarabjit Singh, a sewadar (helper) at the Golden Temple, Amritsar, was leading a humble life until he was bitten by the foreign bug. Instead of reaching his destination (UK), the sewadar, cheated by a travel agent, has been languishing behind bars in Greece for the past two months.
The Punjab State Commission for NRIs here on Monday intervened in the matter and sought a report from different police and civil administration authorities in Punjab, besides asking the union ministry of overseas Indian affairs for taking up the case with its counterpart in Greece.
Sarabjit's father Gian Singh petitioned the NRI commission against travel agent Amarveer Singh, alias Prince, and the latter's sister, accusing them of immigration fraud and seeking legal action.
According to Gian Singh, the travel agent promised to send Sarabjit to the UK. The passport was handed over to the agent and the deal was struck for Rs. 6.5 lakh, he claimed.
The commission's order states, "The money was arranged by selling a plot in Patti (Tarn Taran district), withdrawal from the GPF (general provident fund) account and borrowing from relatives." Despite being paid the entire money, the agent cheated. Sarabjit was sent to Turkey with an assurance of sending him to the UK in two-three days.
"But from Turkey, the travel agent's men sent Sarabjit to Greece after snatching the passport and Rs. 50,000," the complainant alleged.
After going through the allegations, NRI commission chairman justice Arvind Kumar (retd) said in the order: "The number of youths coming into the clutches of travel agents is astronomical, with many illegal migrants either detained abroad or deported."
The commission observed that a number of people from different backgrounds were involved through their trans-national syndicate connections in human trafficking. "The business of human trafficking is flourishing in Punjab," the commission said. "We feel that this is high time for an intervention in such activities."
The commission sent this case to the commissioner of police, Amritsar, "to act swiftly" as per the law. The copy of the order was also sent to the IG (NRI affairs) to supervise the inquiry and submit a report.
Besides, the commission also sent the copy of the order to the chief secretary, principal secretary (home), principal secretary (NRI affairs) and the Punjab DGP for taking appropriate action at their end and to intimate the commission about the steps being taken or already taken in this regard.