OM ASTHA RAI in my republica.com
KATHMANDU, Nov 19: In an eye-opening case, which also exposes the existence of well-coordinated rackets involved in human trafficking even after the lifting of a ban on Nepali women´s entry into the Gulf countries, Indian police have held 10 Nepali girls from Delhi airport on the charge of using fake passports to fly to Saudi Arabia.
The Nepali girls bound for Jeddah, a major city of Saudi Arabia, were arrested Thursday night at Indira Gandhi International Airport of Delhi after Indian immigration authorities found them in possession of fake passports. According to Bishwo Ram Khadka, director of Maiti Nepal, which is preparing to hire a lawyer through its sister organization Maiti India to defend the Nepali girls in the court, Indian authorities suspected that their passports, which already have visa stamps for various countries, actually belonged to other Nepali women.
“They were all young girls leaving the country for the first time,” Khadka said. “But, the passports carried by them had multiple previous visa stamps. This is why the Indian authorities interrogated them further. And, the girls admitted that those were not their passports.”
The girls were sent to a women shelter inside Tihar prison on Friday. They will be tried in an Indian court for using fake passports early next week. “Although they used fake passports, they are innocent. They were duped by trafficking rackets,” Khadka said. “We will try to defend them in the Indian court with this argument.”
According to Maiti Nepal that sent representatives to India to collect details on Friday, passports belonging to Ashmita Galan, Raksirang, Makwanpur (PP No. 4500323), Maiya Sarki, Gaishar, Lamjung (PP No. 5174515), Meena Gumba, Manhari-2, Makwanpur (PP No. 4756521), Gorakhi Lodh, Bangi-9, Rupandehi (PP No. 4163789), Min Maya Pulami Magar, Devchuli-5, Nawalparasi (PP No. 3661135), Dipa Sarki, Kanchanpur-6, Banke (PP No. 5259820), Sushila Magar, Jante-9, Morang (PP No. 1958867), Pasang Lama, Lho-1, Gorkha (PP No. 3888649), Shanti Sunar, Sitapur-4, Banke (PP No. 3075566), Mrs Chandra Kala Thapa, Kota-1, Tanahu (PP No. 4809476) have been recovered from them. Their actual names and addresses are unknown.
However, Indian immigration officials did not inform the Nepali Embassy in Delhi about the arrest of the Nepali girls till Friday. “We have informally learnt about the arrests of 10 Nepali girls in Delhi,” a highly-placed source at the embassy told Republica Friday evening. “However, Indian officials have not informed us about the arrests against the international practice of promptly informing the concerned country in such cases.”
The girls were arrested a few days after the immigration department of Saudi Arabia stopped accepting hand-written passports of Nepali workers. Saudi Arabia had stopped accepting hand-written passports following several cases of trafficking of migrant workers. The arrested girls were about to fly to Jeddah on hand-written passports. Nepal had lifted a ban on Nepali women´s entry into four major gulf countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar — almost a year ago after assessing that the ban actually prompted them into entering the Gulf illegally through India. However, the arrests in Delhi have shockingly confirmed that Nepali women are still being trafficked to Gulf countries especially via India.
Why do Nepali women continue to go to the Gulf illegally via India even after the lifting of the ban on their legal entry? “The lifting of the ban does not simply mean that Nepali women can easily go to the gulf,” said a senior official at Ministry of Labor and Transport Management (MoLTM), unwilling to be named.
“They need to fulfill some prerequisites to legally enter any of the Gulf countries. For instance, they must learn certain skills without which they may be harassed by their employers. The manpower agency through which they proceed to the Gulf needs to produce recommendations from the concerned embassy. Obviously, unscrupulous traffickers do not fulfill all these prerequisites.”
Published on 2011-11-19 10:47:02