A growing number of migrant workers from South Asia are travelling to the Middle East and Malaysia on fake passports, thanks to racketeers and corrupt manpower agents. In a worrying development, Nepal is becoming a 'hub or counterfeiters', according to Indian police reports.
The racket in fake passports often targets illiterate migrant workers who are unaware of the consequences of travelling with fake papers, and also facilitates human trafficking.
According to cops, several places have emerged as hubs of bogus passports. Uttar Pradesh is one of them, Mumbai is another. And, worryingly, so is Nepal. "There are different channels and sources through which criminals and gangsters procure fake passports. Nepal is one such source where travel agents are helping criminals get counterfeit passports easily. There are several places in India too." Times of India (click here for full story)
There has been a spate of incidents in recent months in Kathmandu:
The Department of Immigration ( DoI) has seized 118 Nepali nationals and foreigners for possessing fake passports in the last two months.
According to a data obtained by Saturday's Republica daily from DoI, 67 people, including 11 Indian nationals, were found in possession of fake Nepali passports in January 2012. DoI officials had also arrested a Sri Lankan national in January at the Tribhuvan International Airport, the only international airport in Nepal, for using fake passport.
"The trend of using fake passports is on the rise," said Sudhir Kumar Shah, director general at DoI.
"The trend is on the rise as those using such passports are mostly illiterate and unaware about the consequence of such a grave offence," he said, adding most of those arrested were workers who had returned from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia" Xinhua, click here for full story.
In one racket in Darjeeling, North East India, women are trafficked to the Gulf on fake passports from neighbouring Nepal. There has been a 'spurt' of incidents ovr the past year involving women from Darjeeling travelling to the Middle East with counterfiet documentation, according to local human rights advocates.
Anu Darzi is one tragic example. A mother of three, Anu set out for Saudi Arabia last year on a false Nepali passport, bearing the name Ratna Kumari Chand. She was murdered in February last year, and because of a lack of documentation, her family were unable to fly her body home. Indian human rights organisations have also struggled to help, because as far as the Saudi Authorities are concerned, Anu was a Nepali citizen (The Telegraph, India).
Fake passport rackets are a growing menace in South Asia, targeting the most vulnerable migrant workers and leaving the holders of fake documents vulnerable to desperate situations.