Police in Punjab’s Mohali have registered an FIR it came to fore that a local travel agency was using the name of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall (SGSSS), the largest Sikh gurdwara outside India, to con people into a fake ‘work permit’ visa scam.
Using a fake SGSSS logo and letterhead, travel agency with its office in Phase XI, Mohali was issuing ‘provisional’ offer letters to people with a promise to provide them work as ‘pathis’. One such letter, a copy of which was shown to the Indian Express, read: “Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall pleased to offer you a job as Pathi. We trust your knowledge, skills and experience will be among our most valuable assets. Should you accept this offer, per gurdwara policy, you’ll be eligible to receive the following confirming your hire date…”
Religious workers can come to the UK on two visas. There is a Tier 2 Minister of Religion visa for a job offered within a faith community, such as Sikh institutions, in the UK, often used to employ granthis on permanent basis. The second visa is Tier 5 Temporary Religious Workers, who come to perform religious duties for a relatively short period of time, such as raagis. Both categories, need a sponsor, and in case of Sikhs, a gurdwara or an institution, which has registered as a sponsor to employ people from overseas. Gurdwaras often provide suitable accommodation and food for its employees.
Talking to the Indian Express, Gurdwara president Gurmail Singh Malhi said, “We were receiving various calls from India, asking us if we were offering any jobs to religious workers, which we were not. Initially, we just informed callers that no such offers were being made to anyone. However, when the calls kept growing in numbers, and one of the callers said that people had been bee-lining to get work permit visa through Singh Sabha, Southall, we got concerned. We asked someone to come forward with reliable evidence that our name was being used. Eventually, the person who had first called us to cross check, was requested to help and get necessary evidence. I then got in touch yesterday with Ropar IG Amit Prasad and asked him to get the matter investigated at the earliest. I was soon contacted by SSP Mohali and a proper raid was planned with the help of the informer. I am aware that SP Harvinder Singh Virk and SP Harvir Singh Atwal conducted the raid today”.
Malhi further said that all must remain vigilant so that “no one is able to use religious or other institutions abroad as a way to scam poor people in Punjab. People should proactively check and cross-verify information from ‘sponsors’ to not get conned”.
Harmeet Singh, general secretary of the Gurdwara, said, “Singh Sabha has not employed from overseas in years now. We are not hiring. And, Pathis are not on our payroll anyway. It is not a specified job. Many (working here) are volunteers and some are paid depending on the hours of seva they put in. It’s a scam and people need to be wary of being conned”.
Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Satinder Singh said that they have registered an FIR against the accused who were allegedly using the letter heads of the Southhall Gurudwara and further investigation was going on into the case.
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