By Ali Raza
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
LAHORE: As many as 325 people, mostly youngsters, were deported back to Allama Iqbal International Airport here Monday from Turkey.
The FIA Immigration officials said the deportees were deported back to the country by the Turkish immigration authorities through a special flight of PIA. The officials said majority of the deportees belonged to Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin, Gujrat, Narowal and Sialkot. They said some of them also hailed from Faisalabad, Lahore, Karachi and Multan regions.
The officials said the deportees wanted to enter Europe through Turkey and were arrested by the Turkish border security forces at different times. Many of them were arrested some one year back and remained in different jails of Turkey.
The FIA investigators claimed that most of the deportees were aged between 18 to 28. They said all the deportees were handed over to the FIA’s Passport cell for further investigation. Muhammad Qasim, one of the deportees, told that most of the people paid around Rs 0.6 to 0.7 million to the human traffickers to take them to Europe. He said there were also many Pakistanis captured in Turkish jails, who had been arrested in an attempt to enter Europe illegally.
Senior FIA officials said gangs were continuously sending people to Turkey from where they were pushed into the Greece using different land and river routes in a very miserable state of affairs.
The officials said the rackets were sending innocent people to Europe using land routes of Iran, Turkey and the Central Asian Republics. They said the FIA had busted many such gangs.
A senior FIA official said the rackets used to allure the jobless youth by offering a bright future in Europe from across the country. Mostly, they operated in the remote areas like the districts of Mandi Bahauddin, Hafizabad, Narowal, Gujarat, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Sheikhupura, Kasur, Khanewal, Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan, etc, he said. The rackets also operate in the big cities.
The traffickers managed to arrange genuine visas of Turkey for their clients by portraying them as young businessmen or students to deceive the immigration authorities of both Pakistan and Turkey, he said, adding many immigration consultants were also involved in sending people to Greece on a job visa.
After reaching Turkey and Cyprus, the victims were kept in dingy houses and basements and later the racket transported them to Greece through different routes including crossing of river Evros, he said. He further said the rackets had also hired local residents who facilitated then in transporting people in local public transport of closed vans.
One of the deportees Mohammad Akram said he met a large number of Pakistani youth who were struck up in Cyprus because they did not have any travelling documents and could not come back home. He said the youth also avoided going to police, because in that case they would be arrested.
He said in the past, a number of youths lost their lives when Greek and Turkish forces opened fire on them while trying to cross the border. Many such incidents took place in the past where victims were shot dead and their bodies remained there for days.
Another senior FIA official, revealing about the setup of different rackets, said agents working in Greece, Turkey and Pakistan were separate and over 1,000 Euro per person were charged from the victims to transport them to Greece from Turkey. He said sometimes parents unwittingly surrendered their youngsters to a trafficker who lured families with the promise of good-paying jobs in the outer world for their children.
“The most difficult aspect of investigating the crime was identification of the culprits because families of the persons did not complain unless their beloved were either deported or faced some problem abroad,” he said.
The FIA DG said the FIA was working against the human traffickers and several gangs had already been smashed and various notorious human traffickers arrested. He said there was a need of creating awareness among the masses so that the people should start discouraging the agents, besides adopting a legal way for going abroad, he concluded.
Source: The News, Pakistan