‘Donkey route’ risky: Crackdown a must to deter agents, illegal migrants - The Tribune India

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‘Donkey route’ risky

Crackdown a must to deter agents, illegal migrants

‘Donkey route’ risky

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock file photo

AS details emerge from the investigation into the case of a Nicaragua-bound plane carrying Indians that was grounded in France and later sent back to India last month, the knotty ‘donkey route’ modus operandi is unravelling and the authorities are zeroing in on the culprits behind the apparently flourishing human trafficking racket. Exploiting the loopholes in the asylum policy of the US and the craze among Indians to settle in ‘Umrika’, travel agents based in India, the Gulf and some Central American countries have established a well-oiled network. Taking around Rs 45-65 lakh per person, the unscrupulous agents send them — mostly people from Punjab and Gujarat — to their desired destination via various countries and chartered flights.

Significantly, the agents counsel the clients on how to justify their actions in case they are caught by the authorities while crossing over. Migrants from Punjab are advised to plead for asylum citing ‘persecution’ back home for being Khalistan supporters, having links with Opposition parties or having had an inter-caste/inter-faith marriage. They are told to furnish proof such as social media posts or newspaper reports to support their plea. Since the US law allows asylum seekers to work on humanitarian grounds, this ploy has been generally shielding illegal immigrants. It can be gauged from the fact that in December alone, three such trips were chartered for Nicaragua.

Playing the victim card to make the most of the skewed asylum policies of the US, Canada and the UK has been the norm since the days of militancy in Punjab. Sadly, some people are so desperate to go abroad that they are willing to risk their lives, preferring to overlook the horrors the ‘donkey route’ entails. The busting of the Nicaragua-linked racket should spur the US and Indian governments to crack down on human trafficking and illegal immigration.


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