In November 2018, the cops had busted an inter-state gang that has been moving illegal migrants from airports in Kerala after providing them with school certificates, voters ID, pan cards/ Aadhaar

KOCHI: From Bangladesh and Myanmar, they reach Kolkata. The next stop is Hyderabad. The final stopover, Kochi. And their destination range from Australia and Canada to European countries like Serbia. Following the Kerala Police unearthing the international footprint of this operation, both the Intelligence Bureau and National Investigation Agency (NIA) have started probing.

Shockingly, Kochi has emerged the critical lay-over for dozens of Bangladeshis and Rohingyas as they plot their illegal migration to Australia, Canada and a few European countries. The racket stops short of being a case of human trafficking as these illegal migrants are fully equipped with all valid Indian documents by the time they reach their destinations.

It has been only a couple of months since the Kerala Police made a breakthrough into this illegal migration racket. In November 2018, they busted an inter-state gang that has been moving illegal Bangladeshi/Rohingya migrants from airports in Kerala after providing them with school certificates, voters ID, pan cards/ Aadhaar and, finally, Indian passports.
The Kerala Police team, which arrested Sumit Barua from Hyderabad who they suspect is a key player in this racket, are hoping to make more arrests in the coming days. Their apprehension is the racket involves government officers in Hyderabad, including those in the police service. Presently, Barua is in the state police custody for interrogation.

Ernakulam district police chief Rahul R Nair is tracking the developments. A similar racket was busted by Uttar Pradesh police in November 2018 when five Bangladeshi migrants and their handler were nabbed and several documents including school certificates and Voters ID seized from them. “There are similar rackets operating all across the country. We’re investigating it in detail to ascertain the links of the rackets,” Rahul added.

“As per the details we have collected so far, over the past couple of years, many Bangladeshis have settled in Canada and Australia as Indian citizens. This fraudulent migration has been taking place for the last two years from various Indian airports; Kochi international airport is now a vital link,” said DySP K S Udhayabhanu, who is heading the police team probing the case.

‘Anyone can migrate from India using the services of this racket’

A senior intelligence officer said: “Whether it’s Bangladeshis or Rohingyas, anyone can migrate from India using the services of this racket. The payment ranges between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 1.5 lakh per person. 

“As per our probe, at least a dozen illegal immigrants have managed to leave from the airports with the help of the racket in the last five to six months. The number could be much more.”

The modus operandi, as explained by the investigation team: First comes the school certificate from Kolkata that establishes the Indian origin, by way of a school record, mostly up to class seven or eight. Then, the scene of action shifts to Hyderabad where residence certificates are issued. 

Evidently government officers seem to be involved, says the investigation team, as these documents claim domicile in a particular address for the past one year or so. It is this residence certificate that proves to be a vital cog in the wheel for issuing voters ID, Aadhaar card and an Indian passport.

“The kingpins of this racket evidently have influence in local police too which is required for the mandatory police verification for processing the passport application. 

“The immigrants are also taken on a free trip to Malaysia as tourists using the documents for five to six days as a double check process and also to convince the immigration wing that they have travelled abroad earlier with the passport,” the officer said.

Munambam, Surroundings Come Under Scanner Again

Kochi: Munambam and its adjacent areas have again come under the scanner of enforcement agencies as the police have stumbled upon evidence suggesting an international human trafficking racket is operating from the area to help Tamils reach Australia in fishing boats. The human trafficking angle emerged following the latest incident on January 12 when the police recovered 19 pieces of baggage from Cherai beach and Maliankara and another 54 abandoned bags from Kodungalloor; also revealing how porous the state’s coastline is.