Sent back 5 times in 7 months, man’s donkey route failures reveal larger racket | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Sent back 5 times in 7 months, man’s ‘donkey route’ failures expose larger racket

By, New Delhi
Mar 14, 2024 07:46 AM IST

The “donkey route” refers not to a specific route, but to a circuitous, often perilous multi-hop journey that migrants take to reach western countries.

A 22-year-old man from Tarn Taran in Punjab made five failed attempts over seven months to enter the United States using illegal “donkey routes”, hitting a brick wall each time he tried to rout his journey through a different country, before his American dream was cut down when he was picked up by Delhi Police, said senior officers aware of the matter, who added that the man’s arrest led them to the heart of a far-reaching illegal immigration racket.

At the Almaty airport, Kazakh authorities spotted that two pages of Gurpreet’s passport had been ripped out. He was deported to India on an emergency certificate on March 8. (ANI)
At the Almaty airport, Kazakh authorities spotted that two pages of Gurpreet’s passport had been ripped out. He was deported to India on an emergency certificate on March 8. (ANI)

Details the man provided during his interrogation drew the police’s attention to a 32-year-old agent in Tarn Taran who planned the man’s elaborate donkey route journey and promised to send him to the US. The agent demanded 50 lakh from the man, identified as Gurpreet Singh, and was paid an initial instalment of 10 lakh, said officers.

Now catch your favourite game on Crickit. Anytime Anywhere. Find out how

Gurpreet, who was unemployed, wanted to join his brother who successfully completed the donkey route in 2021. The agent, Sultan Singh, arranged “Gurpreet’s journey five times, through separate routes,” said deputy commissioner of police (IGI Airport) Usha Rangnani.

But luck wasn’t to be on Gurpreet’s side — he failed each time.

He couldn’t even leave India on one attempt, was deported from Qatar on another, failed to enter France twice in a month, and was finally deported from Kazakhstan after authorities in the central Asian country detained him for bearing a passport with torn pages.

When he arrived he was picked up by the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) unit of Delhi Police, which arrested him on March 8.

The “donkey route” — a term used largely by traffickers in Punjab — refers not to a specific route, but to a circuitous, often perilous multi-hop journey that migrants take to reach western countries, usually the US. One of the relatively cheaper donkey route options involves people trekking through the thick forests of Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Gurpreet’s route, though, involved a series of flights, bouncing between countries and exploiting weak spots in global immigration processes.

Sultan and his associates first tried to send Gurpreet from Punjab to the US via Vietnam last September. Sandhu left from Amritsar and travelled to Kolkata, where he was to head to Dubai and then Vietnam. However, Singh aborted that trip. He called him back from Kolkata, claiming the “route was not clear” and that the journey could prove to be fraught, said IGI Airport police, citing the two men’s disclosures during interrogation.

Singh then took a second shot, routing Sandhu to Qatar and then Brazil. In November, Gurpreet headed off from Delhi, armed with a valid visa, for Qatar. But Qatari authorities saw through his fake Brazilian visa. They deported him, but refrained from lodging a police complaint, said Rangnani.

“He met Sultan again, who ripped out the pages in his passport that had the fake Brazil visa,” she said.

The next month, Sultan asked Gurpreet to use the Punjab-Dubai-France route, which was the closest he ever got to the US.

He flew from Amritsar to Delhi and then Dubai. There, he travelled to France on a chartered plane. But French officials turned him back, pointing to his “incomplete and fake” papers.

He made another attempt through France, but that too failed.

The fifth attempt, Gurpreet’s last, was to be his undoing.

Sultan made Gurpreet take a far longer route this time — through Kolkata, Bhutan, Bangkok, Dubai, Senegal, Dubai, and Kazakhstan.

In January 2024, Gurpreet reached Kolkata and took a flight to Bhutan, after which he reached Dubai via Bangkok.

“From Dubai, Gurpreet travelled to Senegal and back to Dubai from where he reached Almaty in Kazakhstan, which grants visa-on-arrival,” said Rangnani.

“At the Almaty airport, Kazakh authorities spotted that two pages of Gurpreet’s passport had been ripped out. He was deported to India on an emergency certificate on March 8,” she said, adding that he was arrested and booked on suspicion of cheating and forgery.

Sultan’s name emerged when the police interrogated the 22-year-old.

“Investigators found that Sultan was part of a large human trafficking ring. He went on the run after Gurpreet’s arrest,” said a police officer aware of the matter.

The police tracked him to a hideout in Amritsar and arrested him on Tuesday.

Police said Sultan had also been into the business of booking tickets and arranging visas for over 10 years. “Exactly when he got involved in the human trafficking ring, and who all are his associates, is being probed. He claims that he only sent three-four people to the US, but we need to confirm it. He charged between 40 lakh and 60 lakh,” said an officer aware of the case.

Gurpreet was inspired by his brother’s success.

“He arranged 10 lakh by dipping into the family’s savings and by borrowing from a raft of people. He wanted to join his brother. Gurpreet believed he could find work there easily,” said the investigator.

Get World Cup ready with Crickit! From live scores to match stats, catch all the action here. Explore now!

See more

Get Current Updates on India News, Budget 2024, Weather Today along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, June 21, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On