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The ‘artistic’ way to illegal migration

Illegal migrants from Sri Lanka pay exorbitant amounts to their agents for getting them visas on forged papers, an Indians press report said.

Chennai is one of the leading human trafficking hubs, the key players being scheming travel agents, some business firms which have branches overseas and a section of the entertainment industry which routinely sends people abroad on shooting assignments. All of them cash in the dreams of youth to work in a foreign land.

The Managing Director of the Saravana Bhavan chain of hotels was arrested recently on charges of faking papers to help his employees get US visas.

Migrants cought up as much as Indian Rs 600,000 for a visa. Those from Sri Lanka often end up paying up to Rs two million. “They first collect Rs 100,000. The rest of the amount is to be paid upon reaching the destination. Many such migrants get arrested. One of my friends got arrested in Canada after he migrated there along with a film crew,” Tamizhvannan, a youth from Chennai said.

“There are different modus operandi adopted by these traffickers. The entertainment industry, especially Kollywood, and business establishments which have branches overseas, use different ways to help people migrate to foreign countries illegally,” a senior police official said.

Business establishments use their status as an employer to push people out of the country. “These establishments take a hefty fee from prospective migrants and give them false designations.

They then create fake experience and professional certificates to substantiate their designation and to aid them clear the visa interviews. In a majority of the cases, the forgery goes unnoticed and people manage to get out of the country. Some cases get exposed during stringent visa interviews, where the visa officers try to test their knowledge in the subject mentioned in the experience certificate and professional qualifications,” the official added.

To tide over this, applicants are given rigorous training to perform well in the visa interviews. “Some people in the film industry in Tamil Nadu send scores of people abroad like this. If they have an entertainment show or a shooting schedule abroad, they will be taking 50 to 100 people along with them. If their real requirement is 100 people, they plan to include another 20 who are actually illegal migrants.

The procedure for sending the illegal migrants starts around six months before the date of journey. The would-be migrants are first asked to take a membership in a well-known entertainment provider in Tamil Nadu.

They are enroled into the organisation as light boys, make-up men or junior artistes. The show organiser or the crew members then apply for the visa for the entire crew and easily get them abroad. If 120 people go from here, only 100 or less return,” Madhavan (name changed), whose friend had managed to get to UK through this route, told TOI.

In March this year, Indian police arrested a small-time actress and two of her associates whom she tried to take to the US as her make-up men. They had forged an invitation to take part in a cultural programme.

The trio was arrested after the consulate made a complaint to the police. As a follow-up action, the consulate banned for life 200 film personalities, including many leading actors and directors, from travelling to the US. Times of India.

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