The long list of registered immigration companies on the Mohali administration’s website evokes trust. But Newsline found even the agencies booked for dubious dealings continue to figure on the website, thereby defeating its very purpose. One of the firms, for instance, has 58 cases against it, yet it continues to feature on the administration website.
As many as 58 cases are registered against The World Key Immigration firm, yet the authorities are yet to strike its name off. Cheating cases have also been registered against Seabird and Unicorn Overseas in Phase 10, which continue to be among agencies listed on the website.
Even as the Mohali police carried out 50 raids in frauds related to immigration last month, people continue getting duped in the name of foreign dreams.
The arrest of three women, who were part of a gang duping people in the name of contract marriage for immigration, put the spotlight on the proliferation of immigration-related frauds in Mohali district. Over the years, Mohali has become a hub of immigration business with as many as 288 immigration firms registered with the district administration. Activists working against fraudulent immigration firms allege there are around 100 more firms running without any registration.
Last month, some people carried out a protest against an immigration firm in Phase 3B2. On Tuesday, a dozen people met Senior Superintendent of Police Harcharan Singh Bhullar and demanded registration of a case against the owners of an immigration company that had taken money from them but had done nothing to keep its promise.
Satnam Daun, who has been crusading against such illegal firms, told Chandigarh Newsline that fly-by-night operators are using the registration as a tool to dupe people. ‘’It gives them the government’s stamp of approval and hapless people get taken in by it.’’
Advocate Tejinder Singh Sidhu, who has been handling a number of immigration frauds, says when the government blacklists an immigration firm, the owners get another one registered under a different name and carry on their business.
“The registration is done only for consultancy, but these people start applying for visas, and then they ask the applicants to deposit some money, a part of which is non-refundable.
“Suppose an applicant deposits Rs 1 lakh, these firms take 20 per cent as fees, which is non-refundable, even though the government frowns on this practice,” advocate Tejinder Sidhu told Newsline.
Sidhu claims in case of fraud by a registered firm, it is the liability of the government to refund the money.
For registering a travel and immigration firm, the owners have to deposit a fee of Rs 25,000 with the application form. The registration is done after police verification of the owner and the address where the firm is to be opened. The licence is issued under Punjab Travel Professionals Regulation Act.
Mohali SSP Bhullar says he has directed all the Station House Officers to register cases against the travel agents who dupe people and arrest them.
“There is no laxity. We shall not spare anyone who is doing any illegal activity,” the SSP said.
Deputy Commissioner Gurpreet Kaur Sapra, when contacted, said she will take action against the registered agencies facing a criminal case after consulting the district attorney.