Immigration fraud: 3,500 travel agents booked in four years in Doaba
As per a record, police receive around 10 complaints of cheating and immigration frauds everyday in Doaba, which speaks about the people’s unquenchable desire to get an NRI tag.Updated: Oct 26, 2019, 22:29 IST
The pursuit of foreign land has turned into a veritable nightmare for many in Doaba region who have fallen prey to unauthorised travel agents. The region, which is infamous as Punjab’s immigration hub, has witnessed a spurt in immigration fraud over the past four years, however, police have failed to arrest many agents despite filing case against them.
Many among 311 Indians, who were deported by Mexican immigration authorities for trying to sneak into the US, blamed lack of jobs in the country that led them into the trap of fake travel agents.
As per a record, police receive around 10 complaints of cheating and immigration frauds everyday in Doaba, which speaks about the people’s unquenchable desire to get an NRI tag.
In the last four years, 1,467 first information reports (FIRs) have been registered against 3,500 travel agents in Doaba, revealed the police data.
Most travel agents that have been booked are yet to be arrested and authorities seem to be dilly-dallying on declaring them as proclaimed offenders.
Between January 1, 2015, to September 30 this year, 623 cases were registered in Jalandhar, 384 in Hoshiarpur, 190 in Kapurthala and 270 in SBS Nagar, respectively, under different sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Immigration Act and Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act.
As per police records, most people were duped on the pretext of being sent to Dubai, Malaysia, Bahrain, Armenia, Saudi Arabia, Canada and the United States.
This year alone 37 FIRs have been filed in Kapurthala, 65 in SBS Nagar, 119 in Jalandhar and 42 in Hoshiarpur against over 500 travel agents, of which police have barely managed to arrest 150.
Santosh Kumar of Kapurthala, who was deported from Mexico in September said that he had paid ₹18 lakh to a travel agent for ensuring safe passage to the US, however, he was later told to take illegal routes through dense forests. Police have registered a case but were yet to arrest the agent.
Jalandhar deputy commissioner of police Balkar Singh and Kapurthala superintendent of police Manpreet Singh said many of the accused agents had been arrested and efforts were on to nab remaining of them.
Jalandhar SSP Navjot Singh Mahal said, “It has come to the fore that travel agents generally target people from villages as they are illiterate, jobless and more vulnerable. We are organising meets to help people do not fall prey to these agents.”