Trafficked kids, 'parents' bore no resemblance

It was last year that the Bengaluru police got a whiff of the syndicate involved in trafficking children to the US. The police commissioner formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to expose it and instructed the sleuths to work clandestinely to gather leads.

The existence of the SIT, headed by Additional Commissioner of Police (East) P Harishekaran, was made public only on Monday. Police said a large amount of work needed to be done clandestinely and the collated data analysed.

“I personally got information about the syndicate a year ago and the SIT was formed immediately. We are yet to find answers to many questions or know the objectives of the syndicate and the background of the suspects,” he said.

Modus operandi
Some people overstaying in the US wanted their children in India to join them. But the children could not legally travel to the US in the absence of passports and visa. The immigrants got in touch with the syndicate which offered to traffick one child for Rs 25 lakh. The syndicate sent at least 32 children thus.

To begin with, it identified couples to act as parents of the beneficiary child. The couple was genuine at times and fake sometimes.

In some cases, the husband was genuine and the wife fake. In others, the wife was genuine and the husband fake. The couple and the child were trained in a house in Benglauru to act like one family. The syndicate obtained house rent agreements, marriage certificates and other documents from the BBMP, Bescom and other government agencies to get passports and visa.

The syndicate misused the drop box facility at the US consulate in Chennai to apply for visa for children aged below 14 years. The facility doesn’t require the appearance of children in person. It obtained non-immigration B1/B2 (business and pleasure visa).

Travel arrangements were made once the passports and visa were ready. Sometimes, short package trips for three days were mentioned in the visa. The couple never stayed in the places shown in the visa. They would return within 48 hours after dropping off the child at the US.

The syndicate members stayed in Shivajinagar, Ramamurthy Nagar, Banaswadi, Baiyappanahalli, RT Nagar, Ashoknagar, Rajajinagar, Vijayanagar, Halasuru Gate, Banashankari, Girinagar  and HAL localities.

Police got on their trail after finding marked differences in the facial structures of the children and their so-called parents. They zeroed in on 16 couples and checked their antecedents and then carried out the raids on Monday. Couples from Gujarat and Punjab are involved in the racket, police said.
DH News Service

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