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Travel agents are biggest POs in Punjab
K S Chawla

Ludhiana, September 5
It has been a lucrative business to operate as travel agents in Punjab so far. But with the Punjab government finally waking up to the problem of illegal migration, the good, old days could well be over. That is, if the task force formed to crack down on the illegal travel trade succeeds in its mission.

The task force, headed by Inspector General of Police V.K. Bhawra, has a daunting task ahead. The task force is entrusted with the task of tracking urgently the 1,100 and odd ‘proclaimed offenders’ who are evading trial in various cases and absconding. Alarmingly, as many as 691 of them are said to be travel agents operating in Punjab. Cases against 488 of them were registered at the Indira Gandhi International Airport police station in New Delhi for cheating innocent people and facilitating illegal migration.

Not surprisingly, Jalandhar city tops the list with as many as 107 travel agents figuring in the list with 68 more named in police stations in Jalandhar Rural. Adjoining areas like Kapurthala and Nawanshahr follow with 71 and 55 travel agents on the run respectively. While the problem appears to be less acute in Ludhiana, where 55 travel agents are evading trial, the number in Amritsar is higher at 84.

The task force consists of all Range DIGs and the three police commissioners of Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar. IGP Bhawra told The Tribune that nodal officers have been appointed in each district to coordinate efforts to arrest the POs. the nodal officers would have police force at their command at the district headquarters to launch a drive to arrest the proclaimed offenders.

The main objective of the task force is to check illegal migration of people to foreign countries and check human trafficking, said Ludhiana police commissioner, Ishwar Singh. The Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) has been made the nodal officer at Ludhiana. Look out circulars (LOCs) against the proclaimed offenders are also being issued, he informed.

Travel agents are often guilty of misleading gullible people with the promise of securing them work permits and lucrative jobs abroad. Most of the illegal migrants end up in foreign prisons and ruin their prospects.

The Punjab Govt has also formulated a Punjab Prevention of Human Trafficking Bill which has been sent to the Centre for approval. 





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