KOCHI: Despite the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) detecting the nexus between the security force and the immigration department way back in 2011, human trafficking through the Kochi Airport continues unabated, with the police registering four cases and arresting 20 people this month alone.The latest attempt came to light on Monday when the police arrested four persons in two separate incidents. A 37-year-old Andhra Pradesh man was arrested for trafficking three Andhra women. All four were arrested while boarding a flight to Muscat using forged documents. Police recovered fake visa documents, return tickets and vaccination certificates from their possession.
While the police have established the link of Sampath Ravuji, 37, a native of East Godavari, Andhra Pradesh, with one of the women in the case, probe is on to find if there are others involved in the other three cases. Similarly, last Friday, 13 persons, also from Andhra, were arrested for human trafficking using fake documents. Though the cases reported so far are from Andhra, sources said there could be kingpins operating from other parts of the country as well.
“The CBI proved the human trafficking case in 2011, bringing out the connection between the rackets, the immigration officials and the police. Travel agents took bribes from the gang and facilitated the immigration of more than 20 people. The situation appears to be similar now. We have detained five women and one man while attempting to enter the Gulf using forged documents,” said a police officer tracking the development.“We don’t know how many people have entered Gulf countries with forged documents during these days, but we’re sure the immigration department and airport officers have some unholy links with these rackets,” he said.
There are also allegations that the immigration department’s verification of travellers’ profiles is not strictly done.“Some travellers must go through a rigorous immigration process. Such tests are required for the majority of uneducated people. However, in most cases, they are free to travel. This may have aided the rackets in expanding their operations from the Kochi airport,” said another officer.
Meanwhile, Ernakulam Rural SP K Karthik, who ordered a probe into the forgery of documents, said that an Andhra Pradesh-based racket is allegedly involved.“An investigation team has been formed due to the gravity of the crime. People who are involved in forgery will be arrested. The investigation will also look into the connection between the rackets and other people involved in it. With the arrest of an Andhra Pradesh native, we have learnt more about the Andhra Pradesh-based racket,” said Karthick, adding that the criminals clearly have interstate links.