A chance capture of illegal immigrants by US agencies has unearthed a major immigration scam with a Gujarat connection, though it is presumed that it is only the tip of an iceberg. It is a revealing story about the mad craze toward US immigration among some of the Gujaratis, particularly from Mehsana in North Gujarat.
It all started when six persons who travelled to Canada on student visas were caught by the US agencies on April 28. They were caught while illegally crossing over to the US by the US and Canadian agencies from a sinking boat in St Regis.
There were four Gujarati students from Mehsana identified as Dhruv Patel, Neel Patel, Urvish Patel and Savan Patel among the group of six caught. They had gone to Canada on student visas on March 19 after taking the IELTS exam from the IELTS’ Hotel Fun Point Centre in Navsari.
Mehsana police are thoroughly investigating the case after the US consulate-general brought the matter to their notice that despite having very high scores in IELTS, the four struggled to understand English when presented in a US court after their rescue. They were required to be provided with a translator.
The US authorities suspect that barely literate persons have procured fake IELTS certificates to migrate to Canada on student visas. They requested Gujarat police to investigate the role of the IELTS centres in this scam.
Along with the investigation being carried out at this particular centre at Navsari, it is learnt that Mehsana police have identified a nexus among ” Chalis Chor” – a group of 40 persons comprising human smugglers, staffers of an educational organization, and immigration aspirants. Police appear to be in possession of substantive proof.
The main agency identified in the scam is Planet EDO located near Visat Petrol Pump in the Sabarmati area, Ahmedabad and the exam centre is Hotel Fun Point in Navsari. As many as 182 students have taken exams from this centre. All are under a cloud of doubt.
As per reports, the main brain behind the illegal activities for high IELTS (International English Language Testing System) ranks is a man with a key post in an educational organization in Delhi his son-in-law
from North Gujarat.
“After getting information about the fake certification and irregularities in the IELTS exams from an educational organization, we found that nearly 15 human smugglers, 20 staffers of an education organization and around five aspirants were directly involved in the scam,” said Gujarat police.
As per police sources, IDP, an Australian agency with its head office in Gurgaon, conducts all IELTS exams and whose Indian branch gave the contract to Planet EDO. Planet EDO selected centres, based on the infrastructure. Planet EDO also has its office in Gurgaon.
The first case was highlighted in April when a dummy student was caught taking the exam in Nadiad. CCTVs in two centres were found switched off in Navsari and Mehsana. Planet EDO head Sanjeev Sehgal had told the police that CCTV cameras were closed in keeping with the guidelines of IDP. However, the police are not yet provided a copy of such guidelines.
Mehsana police have already recorded the statement of Indrajit Rajput, manager of the Planet EDO office in Ahmedabad. They have also roped in forensic experts to probe the scam.
As many as 950 candidates are suspected to have fraudulently secured high IELTS scores this year by paying Rs 14 lakh each. All of them are now either in the US or Canada.