Cops allow human trafficking (??)

HYDERABAD: An internal analysis by the Special Branch done sometime ago, which is gathering dust, threw up startling facts, including how officers circumvent procedures to let fraudsters through.

Further, agents have easy access to immigration desks and 'tainted' officers continue to be on duty clearing passengers. The top brass was aware of these lapses much before the present human smuggling came to light. But they chose not to act. Some immigration officers — usually of SI rank — cleared passengers without valid documents even after being warned.

Despite this, superiors took no serious action against the errant officers. Official sources said it was almost a year ago that an FIR was lodged for the first time against four officers — inspector A Venkataramana and SIs Mallikarjun Choudhary, Mohd Nayeem and Ananthaiah — for clearing passengers without valid documents.

The four officers landed in trouble when about 20 passengers cleared by immigration were confronted by ACP (immigration) Narasimha Reddy in the departure lounge as they waited for a flight to Kuwait. It was detected that they had been cleared without ECNR and also possessed no work papers. Usually, it is only after deportation that the lapse gets exposed. But here a surprise check brought out the scandalous operations at the immigration wing. All the policemen in question are now out of the immigration wing and the Special Branch and are posted elsewhere.

"They surrendered themselves before court and are fighting the case," an officer of the Begumpet police station said. But many other SIs continue their practices for obvious reasons. According to the internal analysis, five instances of passengers being cleared with fake documents have been recorded against the name of another SI.

These errant officers and staff appear to have clear knowledge of agents behind human trafficking but are seldom or never questioned in investigations.

"The human trafficking racket involves agents who cannot be traced easily," said Begumpet inspector J Subbarami Reddy. Such statements may sound credible but even when there are leads they are not pursued.

For instance, in the case of a Gujarati woman Vidhi Patel caught trying to go to the US on a fictitious identity, a man believed to be an agent was in an inspector's chamber at the immigration counter. But he beat a hasty retreat when he saw the woman was in trouble. The incident highlights how easy it is for unauthorised persons to enter the immigration area.

A few years ago there was a proposal that all immigration-related cases should be transferred to the Central Crime Station, the detective department of the city police. But till date nothing has been done.

"We are asking our officers to be strict. But as we see sometimes there are instances where passengers with improper documents get cleared," ACP Vinay Kumar of the immigration wing said. Source

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