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
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
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
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
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.