30 Travel Agents Booked in Punjab Over Detained Indian Immigrants in U.S.

About 25 travel agents were booked in Kapurthala by the Punjab Police during investigations into illegal entry of several youth from the state into the United States.


About 25 travel agents have been booked in Kapurthala by the Punjab Police during investigations into illegal entry of several youth from the state into the United States. The action against the travel agents was taken on June 29 after the families of many of these young men from Punjab lodged complaints, the Indian Express reported.

Eight out of the 25 travel agents have been named in the FIR, the report added. Cases have been registered against them under Sections 420 and 120 (B) of IPC and 13 of the Punjab Prevention of the Human Smuggling Act, the report cited SSP Sandeep Sharma as saying. The police are identifying the others who may have been involved in sending the youth to the United States through illegal means, after taking lakhs of rupees from their families.

Over 35 men from Punjab, including 24 youth from Sultanpur and Ludhiana, have been reported to be detained in various U.S. jails for illegally entering the country via Mexico, the publication said. While 52 Indians are housed in Sheridan Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) in Oregon, at least 42 others are held at the Otero County Detention Center in New Mexico.

The Punjab government has received the names and passport details of those held in Oregon, and the information has been shared with the External Affairs Ministry, the Times of India had reported earlier this week.

Most of the Indians detained over illegal entry claimed asylum in the United States citing fears of religious persecution in India. The cases came to light after the Trump administration launched its “zero tolerance” policy, which allows prosecution of undocumented migrants who enter the United States illegally.

The North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) has written a letter to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, urging the government to take action against agents who lure the Punjabi youth with promises of well-paying jobs and settlement in the United States, the Times of India reported.

The youth from Punjab are lured to leave the country and travel abroad by a nexus of human traffickers, officials and politicians in the state, Satnam Singh Chahal, executive director of NAPA, was cited as saying by PTI in an earlier report. Each person is charged Rs 35-50 lakh for arrangements to travel abroad through unscrupulous means, often involving travel through several countries, Chahal added, according to the report.

“Human trafficking is a criminal act which affects the global community and consequently Punjabis are too victims of this episode. The Punjabis’ enthusiasm to migrate to affluent countries in search of greener pastures has led the traffickers to exploit them,” Chahal was quoted as saying by the news agency. “Using different modus operandi, people of different backgrounds involved in human trafficking often put the lives of their clients in considerable danger. Failure to reach their promised destination leads to deportation, exploitation, indebtedness, imprisonment and even death,” he added.

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