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Bangalore airport safe exit for illegal migrants?

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UNDER PRESSURE: A file picture of people waiting in front of the the Bangalore airport departure lounge. Staff shortage at the immigration counter often results in overcrowding. —
UNDER PRESSURE: A file picture of people waiting in front of the the Bangalore airport departure lounge. Staff shortage at the immigration counter often results in overcrowding. —

K.V. Subramanya

Three people a month are deported for using fake papers

Agents ‘advise’ them to fly from Bangalore

At least 40 migrants are sent back in a year

BANGALORE: Bangalore airport has apparently turned out to be a safe exit point for those who want to illegally sneak out of the country, thanks to the laxity on the part of the immigration officials..

On an average, 40 migrants are annually deported back to Bangalore from various countries for travelling on a fake passport or visa. In the latest incident, the UAE authorities on Friday deported a Sri Lankan national from Dubai after he was found travelling on a stolen visa. Immigration officials at Bangalore airport had cleared Nimala Kasan (21) of Jaffna, who boarded an Emirates Airline flight to Dubai.

Mostly Lankans

According to sources in the Bangalore police, in five years, three persons on an average, have been deported every month. Most of them were Sri Lankan nationals and were sent back mainly from Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai, Germany and the U.S.

People who want to travel on fake/incomplete documents preferred to fly from Bangalore as checks were reportedly not strict here, the sources said. In fact, Nimala Kasan was advised by Senthil of Chennai, who allegedly got him the visa, to board a flight from Bangalore and not from any other airport, the sources said.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Bipin Gopalakrishna blamed such lapses on the huge passenger volume at the Bangalore airport. “We will take steps to ensure that such things do not happen in future,” he said.

Meanwhile, immigration authorities at the Bangalore airport are likely to face embarrassment as about 1,000 migrants are on the verge of being deported from different nations. It has come to light that the officials had cleared these passengers even though they did not have the Emigration Clearance Not Required (ECNR) stamp, the sources said. Interrogation of the deported Sri Lankan nationals has revealed that in most cases they had decided to flee their country as their close kin had been killed in the ethnic conflict. They wanted to settle abroad, particularly in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. Many of them had procured fake passports and visas in Chennai, the sources said.

Handing over to IB

In view of the increase in the number of deportations, the Union Home Ministry some time ago planned to hand over the immigration desk at Bangalore airport to the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

According to sources, the IB is likely to take over the immigration desk only after the international airport at Devanahalli starts operations in April next. As the IB is short-staffed, personnel from Bangalore police will assist it at the immigration desk, they said.

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