Hundreds of Indians are buying fake Nepali passports to overcome the hurdles posed by India's immigration authorities so that they can go to the Gulf countries for work, a media report said on Wednesday.
Every day nearly 150-200 Indians and Nepalis of Indian origin head to the oil-rich Middle East countries using fake Nepali passports, Nepal's state-run Gorkhapatra daily said.
A section of employees at Nepal's immigration department, security personnel and aviation staff at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport are involved in the fake passport racket, the newspaper said.
While a Nepali has to pay Nepali Rs.5,000 ($78) to obtain a passport, it is a lucrative business to sell it to eager buyers who would pay up to Rs.15,000.
The buyers then switch the photographs pasted in the passport and the transaction is complete.
Even some recruitment agencies pretending to hire blue-collar workers for manual labour in the Gulf are part of the racket, the daily said.
Many people who had enrolled with them, hoping to get a job abroad, neither got the desired job nor their passport back. The agencies hand over the passports to buyers and give the duped applicants Rs.5,000, asking them to get another passport.
Every day, Nepali dailies carry dozens of notifications about lost or stolen passports. A large number of these passports actually end up in other hands as part of an organised racket.
As Nepalis and Indians look alike and share similar languages, more and more Indians are acquiring fake Nepali passports to go abroad, the daily said.
Nepal's lone international airport is poorly staffed and lacks the equipment needed to check passports closely.
Also, with the Indian government banning certain destinations like Iraq, people who still want to work there at the risk of their lives and earn a quick buck avail of fake Nepali passports since they are easy to acquire and the Indian immigration authorities allow non-nationals to depart for banned shores without any fuss.