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US-bound Pathankot youth untraceable in Panama

Twentysix-year-old Jagmeet Singh of Pathankot was sold the “great American dream” for Rs 45 lakh but he now finds himself languishing in a Panama jungle where unscrupulous agents often force boys to walk for days through steep mountains and vast swamps before they can even get a chance to enter the US.

The Pathankot police have registered a criminal case against Kahnuwan-based travel agents Parminder Singh and his wife Balwinder Kaur. The youth’s parents had been assured by the agents that Jagmeet would be sent on a direct flight to the US but instead he was forced to take the ‘Donkey route’ through Panama.

Assuming that the case may potentially be linked to Nicaragua-bound ‘Donkey route’ flight intercepted in France on December 26, SSP Daljinder Singh Dhillon is himself leading the investigations. An FIR has been lodged at the Division Number 2 police station under Sections 420 (cheating), 346 (wrongful confinement) and Section 24 of the Emigration Act. The SSP said the last time Jagmeet got in touch with his parents was on December 19 and his location then was traced to the jungles of Panama.

“We are ascertaining whether the travel agent had links with the agents who planned the Nicaragua escapade. We are also scanning the digital footprints to pinpoint Jagmeet’s exact location,” said SSP Dhillon. Digital footprints are trails of data that people leave on computers behind as a result of online activity.

Jagmeet had expressed a desire to work in the US, following which his father Joginder Singh got in touch with the Kahnuwan-based couple, who were known to send people abroad through the ‘Donkey route’ by charging a hefty amount. The route is fraught with danger.

Joginder alleged a deal was settled for Rs 45 lakh, of which Rs 15 lakh was paid in advance. “Once the payment exchanged hands, we received a call from the agent that Jagmeet had boarded a flight to Guyana from where he would safely reach the US within a day or two. However, sometime later our son called us and said he was being forced to board a flight to Panama from Delhi.

“On December 19, we received a call from our son in which he had sent his location, which showed it to be the jungles of Panama. His voice was quivering and he was crying unabashedly,” said Joginder.

The police have learnt that the agent couple had got new passports prepared after showing an address in Ghaziabad. “In all probability, they have fled to some foreign country before the registration of the FIR,” said the SSP.

Via ‘donkey route’

  • Jagmeet Singh’s kin claim travel agents (couple) took Rs 45 lakh to send him directly to US
  • But he was forced to take the ‘donkey route’ through Panama, they allege
  • The police say the couple got new passports made and may have fled the country
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