Now, human smugglers in India are using advanced techniques such as forging passports with stolen visa stickers to facilitate illegal immigration to the US.
Sources in Gujarat Police and in immigration services said that earlier, the trend of ‘hamshakal’ (lookalike) passports was quite prevalent for illegal immigration.
Operators along the network patch up all the gaps, starting with issuing forged passports if their client doesn’t have one, complete with stolen or duplicate visa stickers. Next come ‘pushers’ and ‘pullers’ at airports in the form of corrupt immigration officials who ensure that clients board the flight without hurdles and smoothly clear immigration at the destination.
“Now, human smugglers are much more advanced and equipped,” a police officer said.
In case of passports, they tamper with the first page having the barcode. “They replace a valid passport’s first page which has the barcode at the bottom, with a false one that includes details of their client,” the police officer said. An alleged human smuggler from Mumbai, known as ‘KP’, arrested recently, is considered the mastermind of “passport changed” (PC) practice.
“There is no foolproof verification procedure and human smugglers have their people inside the government system who they often use to ‘push’ their clients — sometimes carrying no travel document but a boarding pass — through the departure airport. At the destination, a ‘puller’ is available to bypass immigration clearance,” said a source associated with investigations into human smuggling.
In the past, people from Gujarat were accommodated on illegal journeys by using Schengen visa stickers stolen from the Italian embassy in Islamabad, said the source, adding that human smuggler, especially ‘KP’ also made fake pages used in passports, duplicate visas and even the special thread that is used in passports.
“These passports often cannot be differentiated from original ones even under ultraviolet light,” said the source.
Clients, who are given stolen or duplicate visa stickers, are instructed to destroy the visa and passport upon reaching the US and in the event of their deportation to India, said the source.