TIA immigration helped traffic Bangladeshis


TIA immigration helped traffic Bangladeshis

SUNDAR KHANAL KATHMANDU,

May 18: Top

immigration officials implicated in the red passport scam are also found to have been providing safe passage to hundreds of Bangladeshis trafficked to other countries, particularly in the Gulf, under fake Nepali identities, investigations have shown. Bhuminanda Bhandari, the only one under detention among five Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) immigration officers implicated in the red passport scam, recorded a statement with police that almost the entire TIA immigration set-up had been facilitating easy access inside the terminal for Bangladeshi workers, as per tie-ups with trafficking rackets. “It was like an open secret that Bangladeshis would not have passed through TIA unless they were shepherded by Nepali officials. Bhuminanda´s statement has only substantiated it. Investigations are now required into this new aspect also,” said investigative officials. The appalling involvement of top immigration officials in trafficking Nepalis and foreign nationals under fake identities has been established following the disappearance of Khada Nanada Dhakal, chief of TIA Immigration Office, and three other officials, after they were implicated in the red passport scam. Bhandari had directly fingered Joint-Secretary Dhakal, who is known in contemporary Nepali Literature by the pen name Prateek Dhakal, as the key person facilitating the safe passage of two persons in possession of the tampered passports of lawmakers Gayatri Sah and BP Yadav. Nepal police have issued arrest warrants against all four absconding immigration officials. “They must have earned at least Rs 10 million each in a period of six months solely through their conniving at trafficking rackets,” said officials of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), the special bureau of Nepal police that succeeded in unravelling the intriguing red passport scam and arresting the two lawmakers last month. Thousands of Bangladeshis with fake Nepali identities are believed to have been trafficked to other countries in 2010 alone via TIA. As a supporting fact, investigative officials point to a massive increase in the number of Bangladeshi nationals entering Nepal by air over the last few years. A total of 20,223 Bangladeshi nationals entered Nepal by air in 2010 alone, an increase of 60 percent compared to 2009. The astounding figure follows a huge increase of 48 percent in 2008 and a steady increase of 7 percent in 2009, in comparison to the respective preceding years. The trend is considered quite unprecedented and unnatural, taking into account that there has not been any spectacular tourism promotion or business activity between the two countries to trigger such huge movement of people. Racketeers have immersed themselves in trafficking Bangladeshi nationals through Nepal for the last few years after Bangladesh was restricted by Gulf countries to limited quotas for the supply of migrant workers. Metropolitan Police Range Kathmandu (MPRK) arrested 17 Bangladeshi nationals, both agents and migrant workers, during raids in 2010 while they were allegedly trying to fly overseas with fake Nepali passports. Likewise, Kuwaiti authorities arrested 34 Indian and Bangladeshi nationals in December, 2010 for possessing fake Nepali passports. “Almost all Bangladeshi nationals arrested in the capital would say that they were assured of help from TIA immigration officials. But we had failed to crack down on the TIA officials owing to lack of concerted investigations,” said investigative officials. Published on 2011-05-18 03:00:00

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