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Foreign Dreams Could End Into Big Trouble : Beware Of 'go Now, Pay Later' Scheme

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Call it market competition or increased lust for money, unscrupulous travel agents are finding newer ways to dupe people desperate to go to foreign shores. The latest being the "go now, pay later" scheme.

A Batala youth, who recently returned home after escaping from the clutches of a Nawanshahr racketeer and his conmen, has revealed the new dimension to the already infamous business of human trafficking.

In Hoshiarpur, to meet Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna, who is also an active human rights activist, Karan Singh said he and two of his friends Sandip Singh and Ranjodh Singh came across one Ravi in Chandigarh last month who proposed the name of travel agent Balwinder Kumar of Bichhori village who they could approach if they wanted to go to Canada. He said Ravi took the phone numbers of all three of them and also of four other youths who had come from different places in pursuit of a suitable agency and told them that Balwinder himself would call them.

"When Balwinder called up from a phone which was traced to Turkey, he told us that a Canadian company needed work force and demanded Rs 20 lakh per person to arrange for the visas. He said the payment would be taken after their arrival in Vancouver. After we agreed, his agents remained in touch with us and told us that one by one, we three would be sent to Canada via Nepal," said Karan.

He said they all submitted photocopies of their passports to the agents in West Bengal via email as they were told to bring their original passports personally to Nepal. Karan said a SpiceJet flight to Kathmandu was booked for him on June 27 and the same day he reached there where Balwinder Kumar's men received him and took him to a flat.

"They told me that the flight I was supposed to catch had been cancelled and that they would arrange another flight. Then suddenly they tied my hands and feet and asked me to follow their dictates. They drugged me that made me dizzy," said Karan. "In the meantime, they contacted Sandip and left a message for my family to call me at a particular cell number. Next day they made me talk to my family at gun point and tell them the details of my journey to Canada which they had already charted out on a piece of paper, to make them believe that I had safely reached Canada. They threatened to kill me saying they would blackmail my family to pay a ransom of Rs 1 crore if I disobeyed or made a mistake while talking. As directed, I asked my family to hand over cash to whichever place the agents wanted," said Karan, claiming that a sum of Rs 24.2 lakh was given in three instalments.

Karan revealed that on July 4, he was woken up in the wee hours, blindfolded, bundled into a car and dropped at the bus stop. "At one point of time I feared that I would be killed but then they gave me Rs 2,500, my passport, 200 Nepali rupees and asked me to go back," he said. "I took a bus to the border and then boarded a train to reach Bengal and finally reached Delhi from where I returned home, he added.

His friend Sandip said he had also reached Kathmandu but he became suspicious and insisted on completing all formalities at the airport hotel itself. "In the night, one of the conmen spilled the beans when he was drunk and told me that they were running an illegal business," said Sandip. He revealed that after him, the accused were to victimise Ranjodh but he and Karan alerted him. Sandip revealed that the men who handled them were from Bihar and they had high-end vehicles and mobile sets.

Khanna asked Nawanshahr SSP Dhanpreet Kaur to take appropriate action, who marked the inquiry to SP (detective) Gagan Ajit Singh. Khanna also promised to take up the matter with the government to expose the illegal nexus.


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