Visa-for-money racket exposed in Rajasthan; Home Ministry orders probe

The Home Ministry said on Monday that it was reviewing its internal processes after a Ministry official was arrested by the Rajasthan Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) for allegedly extorting money from Hindu migrants from Pakistan.

P.K. Mishra, a senior secretariat assistant in the Home Ministry was arrested last week, along with three middlemen, as he was caught accepting money from them at a hotel in Jodhpur. The official visited the city regularly to attend hearings on writ petitions from Pakistani Hindu migrants in the Rajasthan High Court.

“We have sought a report from the Rajasthan police and based on it, we will conduct a further inquiry,” said a Ministry spokesperson.

The Special Court (Anti-Corruption Cases) in Jodhpur has remanded the four accused, including Mr. Mishra, to the ACB’s custody. The three men — Govind, Ashok and Bhagwan Ram — who were allegedly operating as Mr. Mishra’s agents, have identified themselves as Pakistani migrants who have been granted Indian citizenship.

Several victims

Superintendent of Police (ACB-Jodhpur) Ajaypal Lamba said the probe had revealed that Mr. Mishra had demanded and accepted bribes from about 3,000 Pakistani migrants in 2017 alone.

“His usual practice was to halt action on the applications and approve them only after receiving a bribe through his agents”.

The ACB officials have also questioned four other middlemen while collecting evidence of extortion from Pakistani migrants who had applied for visa extension, visa transfer and grant of citizenship.

The ACB, which has registered the case under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, is also looking for Kundan Lal, an employee in the State government’s Home Department in Jaipur, after including his name in the FIR.

While Mr. Mishra was being interrogated to find out if he was operating with more accomplices, Seemant Lok Sangathan president Hindu Singh Sodha has demanded a high-level inquiry into the role of officials of the Foreigner Regional Registration Office in Jodhpur, which was responsible for sending the visa applications through the State Home Department.

Applications pending

Mr. Sodha said the Long Term Visa (LTV) applications of more than 80% of the 20,000 Pakistani Hindu migrants in western Rajasthan were still pending.

“The exposure of this bribery racket, in which we have been demanding a probe since long, clearly indicates the involvement of some big names which should not be shielded in the investigation” he said.

According to a Home Ministry official, 12,100 Hindu immigrants from Pakistan have been granted LTVs since 2012. LTVs are a precursor to citizenship based on reports submitted by respective State governments.

The NDA government had in 2015 exempted Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Afghanistan nationals, belonging to Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian and Jain communities who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, in respect of their entry and stay in India without proper documents or after the expiry of relevant documents. Since 2015, around 150 Bangladeshi Hindus were also granted LTVs.

There are 400 Pakistani Hindu refugee settlements in cities like Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Bikaner and Jaipur. Hindu refugees from Bangladesh mostly live in West Bengal and northeastern States.

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 3:04:51 AM |

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