The growing issue of unemployment and lack of opportunities in the state is driving the youth to look for opportunities outside of India. The youth dream of a better life abroad and hope that they will get an opportunity to live a better quality of life than they would at home. Since most of them are unqualified to be accepted through the regular immigration process, many try and look for illegal means to emigrate.
Most of those who seek to emigrate are youth who only want to live a better life, however, there are some who have criminal cases filed against them and they are willing to undertake any means to leave the country to evade the law. In both cases, the potential emigrants try and make contacts with unscrupulous persons who act as sub-brokers or brokers, commonly called agents, and try to get a fake passport made through them.
Other reasons given for seeking to emigrate are political prosecution in India. However, most of these claims have been found to be unfounded.
In a study sponsored by the European Union on irregular migration from India, they found that out of 1173 cases recorded out of IGI Airport in Delhi, 847 cases involved persons from Punjab and 148 were from Haryana. There were other persons of Punjabi origin but residing in other states of North India.
While Punjab is the biggest market for fake passport seekers, Haryana of late has also emerged as a potential area for fake passport seekers.
The same study found that in Haryana, the maximum number of potential emigrants came from Ambala, Kaithal, Karnal, and Kurukshetra. Other affected areas included Gurgaon, Faridabad, Yamunanagar, Sirsa, Hisar, Panipat, Sonepat and Jind.
So how are fake passports made?
There is a fairly organised gang that is out there operating between three states of North India, where the demand for fake passports is high and they are Delhi, Punjab and Haryana. The syndicate operates through a network of brokers and sub-brokers, who in turn have connections with criminals, thieves, and pickpockets. Once these criminals steal an original passport, they in turn sell these to agents for a good price.
The agents further sell this up the network until it reaches the actual people that work on the passports. In many cases it was found that the agents do this as a side business and were found to be working as travel agents, in private companies, property dealers, the entertainment industry, etc.
The original passport is then manipulated in many ways. In some cases the jackets are retained but the pages are changed entirely, while others are re-stitched. In some cases the pictures are replaced, and in some cases chemical washing of visa stickers is done to make changes on the passports. Many passports have forged stamps, and some use forged or stolen visas.
But there is also the option wherein the entire passport is fake, i.e. from jacket to the inner pages, along with all serial numbers. At an initial glance, even the watermarks look real but when exposed to special lighting, the fake ones are easily identified.
The cost of acquiring a fake passport ranges from Rs one lakh onwards and depends on the country and the content of the passport. This has now grown into a big business and more agents are getting involved in this trade.
What has the state government of Haryana done to curb this menace?
Sadly, very little. The first responsibility for this situation has to lie with the government for not creating more job opportunities so that the youth don't need to travel overseas trying to seek a better life. That said, the state government has done very little towards educating the youth on the dangers involved in trying to emigrate illegally.
Recently, a container carrying illegal migrants of Sikh origin from Afghanistan was discovered in UK. The container on opening found a dead youth along with several malnourished and critically ill men, women and children. This apart, getting involved with criminal traffickers in Europe is fraught with danger but the youth in Haryana is completely unaware of the risks involved. He sees only the better side of life there, not the risks involved.
The state government should have initiated a state-wide aggressive campaign to dissuade the youth from trying to emigrate illegally but this Hooda administration has not thought it a priority. Other than this, there is also very little done by the Haryana Police to try and break this illegal network of agents.
It is time for the government to act before more misplaced youth take a step that they will regret for the rest of their lives. It's time to act.