New phenomenon in human smuggling: Agents hold migrant hostage in Turkey to get more money

Global-refugees

LAHORE: MBA degree-holder Zaman Arshad managed to reach Turkey through a land route after paying about Rs150,000 to human smugglers.

But before he could make his next move, the agent mafia, which helped him in his illegal journey to his desired destination, detained him in Turkey and asked him to pay $2,500 more for his freedom.

Arshad, who hails from Gujranwala Model Town, was made to call his family back home and asked it to pay the amount the agent mafia was demanding for his release. His brother, a doctor by profession, took the Federal Investigation Agency on board over the matter which arrested two agents – Irfan Mansha and Gulfam Ahmed – red-handed on Thursday. Both had come to the place of the brother of Arshad to collect $2,500. The FIA is now negotiating the release of Arshad with his abductors.

“This is relatively a new phenomena in this business of human smuggling. They arranged the travel of Arshad on the agreed amount but when he reached there they held him hostage knowing that he belonged to a rather well-off family and could meet their demand,” FIA Deputy Director (Gujranwala region) Khalid Hameed told Dawn.

The official said two such cases had recently been reported, one from Turkey and another from Iran. “Human smugglers choose their targets in such cases to make good money,” he added.

Arshad was jobless after completing his post-graduation. “He was keen to do something in life. When he met human smugglers through his friend, he told his family that his destination was abroad where he would make a fortune,” the FIA official said.

Arshad’s brother told FIA that the family had stopped him (Arshad) from leaving the country illegally but he did not care.

To a question as how FIA would manage to secure the release of Arshad, Khalid Hameed said: “We have arrested two members of the ring and could manage to get him freed.”

The FIA will charge the arrested suspects under the Human Trafficking Ordinance (HTO) and not abduction. “We cannot book them under abduction charges as the HTO does not have any such provision,” Mr Hameed said.

According to FIA, human smugglers usually charged up to Rs150,000 from a person aspiring to reach Turkey through land route (Balochistan, Iran, Turkey). Anyone wishing to get to Greece have to pay after reaching Turkey. The FIA last year arrested more than 400 agents from the Gujranwala division. -ZULQERNAIN TAHIR, D-N

THE PASHTUN TIMES

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