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Indian human smugglers flourish in EU

Most asylum seekers enter Sweden and then EU, complaining they are victims of India's policy of "ethnic cleansing".

india Updated: Aug 18, 2006 09:57 IST

Indians top the list of people smuggled into Sweden, and eventually the European Union, says a top Swedish official. Most of these Indians come into Sweden claiming asylum, complaining that they were victims of New Delhi's policy of "ethnic cleansing" in Jammu and Kashmir or victims of religious persecution.

The females among them may be ending up in Europe's flesh trade market.

"India tops the list of humans smuggled into Sweden, and eventually the EU, at present", Helene Lekstrom, an official of the Swedish Migrations Board (SMB), based at the Stockholm's Arlanda airport, said.

"Over a half of the nearly hundred 'asylum-seekers' brought into Sweden this year have disappeared without trace, from the Migrations Board's transit camps," Inspector Patrik Pettersson, chief of the border police at Arland, said.

"We are convinced this constitutes part of a huge smuggling of Indians into the European Union. We are working closely with the Europol and Interpol in this matter," he added.

According to police and SMB sources, 10 men, most of them Indians, were arrested at the Skavsta airport, about 100 km from Stockholm, as they sought to flee to Spain.

"They are being held, suspected for organised human smuggling and use of forged as well as false documents," says Pettersson.

Although the police will not disclose identities as per Swedish policy, the Swedish Eko Radio has disclosed that two of the 10, an Indian and a Frenchman, were the ringleaders of the Indo-European human smuggling network.

An SMB source said that so far this year 69 Indians, most of them in their early 20s, have sought political asylum in Sweden.

Some cited "atrocious Indian ethnic cleansing and genocide in Kashmir" while others said they were victims of "the countrywide persecution of religious minorities". All these entered Sweden through Arlanda.

However, after no more than two weeks, most of these did a clean bunk from their transit refugee housing while their applications were being processed, and remain untraceable.

"Since they show no desire to have their petitions for asylum duly processed, we are constrained to assume that the reasons they cite are not serious and their intentions are far different," says SMB's Helene Lekstrom.

"We have strong suspicions that most of these youths, especially the girls, are destined for EU's black jobs and slave markets," the SMB source said. "Perhaps the red light districts of Germany and Holland."

However, there is one clear certainty, "There is a very powerful and well organised ring behind this trade in humans. Several groups that have been netted in recent years all show uniform patterns."

Added Inspector Pettersson, "It is plainly clear that these people are being horrendously duped and exploited. Most of them are semi literate or not at all and don't even know which country they presently find themselves in."

First Published: Aug 18, 2006 09:57 IST