A 44-year-old woman who had smuggled five children to USA by identifying them as her own was arrested yesterday after the American Embassy alerted the Mumbai Crime Branch. The woman had been on embassy’s blacklist for the past year, after they observed her pattern of travel. The embassy informed the Crime Branch that she had been traveling with a different child every time, only to return alone.
The US Embassy officers had observed a trend in a few cases of overseas travel, in which families of three left from India for the US — while the woman and child stayed back, the ‘father’ or the ‘mother’ returned home soon (‘US consulate helps cops bust human trafficking racket’, MiD DAY October 9). Four members of the racket were arrested on October 15 - Aslam Rafiq Panchal (48), Ketan Patel (38), Jignesh Jaggar (39) and Bharat Patel (26).
The police officers said that the role of Bharat Patel was to look for families where family members had been separated by jobs or visa problems. Bharat would accost the family, and introduce them to Aslam and Ketan, both agents who found one or both ‘dummy’ parents who looked like the child. After changing the child’s last name on his passport, they would apply for his visa. Once the child got the visa, the dummy parent or parents would accompany the child to USA and return after dropping him.
The woman, who had been identified as Mehrunisa Gavani, was arrested at the American Embassy where she had gone to apply for a tourist visa for herself and a 12 year-old kid. The embassy’s investigating officers noticed that Gavani was on their blacklist and a suspect in the immigration racket. Gavani’s husband owns a shop in Gujarat and has never been to USA.
“The woman approached the embassy claiming that her husband had settled in USA and she needed to visit him with their child. In the past three years, Gavani has transported five kids and has received Rs 5 lakh for each delivery,” said an officer.
The police officers are now trying to find out the agent who had roped in Gavani and sent her to the embassy for a visa. “The agent is responsible for forging the documents of the kid and replaced it with Gavani last name,” he said, adding, Gavani, a resident of Gujarat, had earlier been to USA on a tourist visa with a group of friends. The woman had gone to USA for a few days and had a valid tourist visa when she came in contact with a few agents. After this she started frequenting USA with different kids with forged documents where her last name was changed.”
How the woman was trapped
>> The woman, who had been identified as Mehrunisa Gavani, was arrested at the US Embassy where she had gone to apply for a tourist visa for herself and a 12-year-old.
>> The woman had been on the embassy’s blacklist for the past year, after they observed her pattern of travel.
>> The woman’s husband owns a shop in Gujarat and has never been to USA, while she approached the embassy claiming that her husband had settled in USA and she needed to visit him with their child.