US embassy busts child smuggling racket

US embassy busts child smuggling racket

US embassy busts child smuggling racket

 United States embassy here has stumbled on a novel way of illegal immigration, where “fake parents” take children as young as 12 to that country.

Following information from the embassy, Delhi police are now probing several instances of child smuggling.

The racket was unearthed when a couple from Punjab applied for visa for their two purported sons, Vijay and Ram Sharma, police said. They suspect as many as 15 boys and girls may have been taken to the US with fake documents.

The embassy’s probe also revealed that many of the children applied for visa under different identities and at times different couples claimed to be their parents.

The investigators suspect that a travel agency in Punjab’s Jalandhar district is involved in the racket. The couple involved in the latest incident, Sanjeev and Priya Sharma from Jalandhar, hold Indian passports. 

Police said a search of the embassy records revealed that their 12-year-old ‘son’, Vijay, had applied for a visa under a different identity last year. He figures in the records as 15-year-old Navjot Singh. 

At the time of Navjot’s application, his parents’ name was given as Harbhajan Singh and Surinder Kaur. During an interview with embassy officials, Sanjay and Priya admitted that Vijay and Ram were not their children, claiming that their neighbours Sarabjit Sharma and his wife Nisha Bhardwaj had told them to apply on behalf of Vijay and Ram. Sarabjit hails from Jalandhar and runs the travel agency Tania Tour and Travels.

“All the documents of the couple and their children were found to be fake,” said a police officer.

Sarabjit and Nisha’s embassy records show that between May 2013 and October 2014, they had submitted the visa applications for their three purported sons --  Sham,  Sandip and Satpal Sharma. “Of the four children, only Tania returned to India with Sarabjit and Nisha. The other three are suspected to be still in the US living with unknown parents,” the embassy’s complaint to police said.

The embassy has found several couples adopting similar methods to take children to the US in the last few years such as Amandeep Singh and Harjinder Kaur, Davinder Kumar and Suman Lata, Karan and Rakhi Sharma. A case has been filed with Crime Branch police station on the basis of a complaint by the embassy’s security unit under IPC sections 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (using a forged document as genuine) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy).

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