Chandigarh, April 14 :
The North American Punjabi Association (NAPA) has sought action against travel and immigration agents who lured over 100 Punjabi youths with dreams of settling in the US but who are now behind bars.
The youths, detained in prisons in the US for the past few months, have gone on hunger strike seeking early resolution of their plight, NAPA said Monday.
In a communication to the Punjab Non-Resident Indian (NRI) Commission here Monday, NAPA sought action against travel and immigration agents who lured the youths with big dreams.
“I want to bring to your notice the miserable plight of more than 100 Punjabi young men who (after paying lakhs of rupees) are languishing in a US jail on charges of illegal entry without valid visa.
“More than 42 undocumented Punjabi youths were arrested on different occasions and detained in the El Paso Processing Centre in Texas, the US. Some of them are on hunger strike since five days. They are demanding early decision of their cases since they are in detention for periods ranging from three months to one year,” Satnam Singh Chahal, executive director, NAPA, said.
Chahal said in a recent incident a Punjabi youth committed suicide. NAPA sent his body to his native village in Punjab for cremation, he added.
In another instance, Jarnail Singh, father of a youth Amritpal Singh, claimed he paid Rs.22 lakh in instalments to an immigration agent to help his son migrate to the US. However, the son landed in a Texas prison following his illegal entry via Mexico.
Asking for the intervention of the commission and the Punjab government, NAPA has sought implementation of the Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Bill, 2010 to save Punjabi youths from fraudulent travel agents and the resultant humiliation and hardship abroad, apart from the suffering their families undergo, Chahal said.
NAPA said: “It is estimated that 10,000 to 20,000 Punjabis contribute to this flourishing business each year by paying Rs.20-30 lakh on the promise of greener pastures. Punjab has become the hub of this Rs.12,000-crore trafficking racket.”
NAPA has also demanded a probe into the role of politicians in the trafficking racket.