The two teenagers from Hoshiarpur who were arrested recently while travelling to Colombia without visa continue to be in the custody of the migration authorities in that country as their parents are unwilling to send air tickets for their return from the Colombian capital city of Bogota.
The families, however, have confirmed air booking from Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, but the Colombian authorities have refused to send the boys there as they “suspect their intention”.
“We have been talking to the father of one of the boys Harjit Singh but he says the boys be sent to Ecuador and they would thereafter take care of themselves. But we strongly suspect their intentions. Harjit and Manjot Singh arrived in Quito and entered Colombia illegally with the obvious intention of going to USA,” said Ravinder Nath, first secretary and head of Chancery in Indian Embassy, Bogota, over phone.
“It would not be advisable to allow them to go to Ecuador in the interest of their security and safety as many unscrupulous agents operate there in collusion with their handlers in India and local police,” he further said.
“Ecuador is under concurrent accreditation of the Indian Embassy in Bogota and in case the boys disappear again in Quito, it will cause embarrassment to us,” he added.
The Colombian authorities have written to the district administration to impress upon the families concerned to send revised fully paid tickets for flight from Bogota to New Delhi.
“Taking advantage of the visa-on arrival facility extended by Ecuador, many Indians, particularly from Punjab, use Quito as the transit route to US. There has been a spurt in illegal migration to Latin America,”
“We have been bringing this to the notice of ministry of external affairs and ministry of overseas Indian affairs and requesting them to take stringent action against human trafficking. Unless effective action is taken against Indian agents, the illegal activities will continue unabated,” said Nath.
Meanwhile, investigations have revealed that youth from Punjab pay up to Rs 50 lakh to agents to go to Canada or USA in search of jobs but they are dumped in countries like Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Bolivia and Guatemala from where they illegally try to sneak into US or Canada. These include people as young as 14 year old. The boys caught recently in Colombia are 16-year-old.
It has been learnt that the government of Ecuador might withdraw the facility of “visa on arrival” for 90 days in view of increasing incidents of illegal migration and overstaying of visitors beyond permitted time limit.
The Indian Embassy in Bogota has asked the Punjab government to keep tabs on unscrupulous agents. It has also asked the Punjab police to arrest an agent named Armando who is suspected to be involved in human trafficking. The two boys arrested recently in Colombia are also understood to have been trafficked by him.