Guwahati, September 16: Meghalaya Police have arrested 14 Nigerian nationals since September 13 as they made their way from Bangladesh en route to different parts of India including New Delhi and Goa illegally, an official said.
Many of the arrested Nigerians claimed they were footballers who have come to play for Indian clubs but the police said they are verifying these claims since they could not even recognise famous soccer players. Police suspect it to be racket where Nigerians who are not able to secure Indian visas are flying to Dhaka and subsequently entering India through the porous international border.
“Since September 13, we have arrested 14 Nigerians under the Foreigners Act, who had entered India illegally after travelling to Bangladesh on valid visas,” said Vivekanand Singh, Superintendent of Police, East Jainitia Hills district which borders Assam. “Two of the Nigerians were arrested this morning while 12 others have been arrested in three batches,” Singh said on Monday.
Sylvester Nongtnger, the Superintendent of Police, anti-infiltration wing said 11 out of the 14 Nigerians were apprehended by their personnel who are on a heightened alert to check documents after neighbouring Assam published the final list of the National Register of Citizens on August 31.
Police said 13 out of the 14 Nigerian men aged between 22-48 years arrived in Dhaka on valid visas and subsequently travelled to the Indo-Bangladesh border where they crossed over by foot to Tripura.
“They claim to have paid anything between $500-$600 per person in Bangladesh to cross over to India through porous patch in Tripura. They were picked by an Indian person on this side and from there they travelled by road to Silchar in Assam ,” said Singh adding that while most of them were likely headed to Delhi. One of them named Obey Sunny who was caught without a passport claimed he was going to Goa.
Singh said they are especially probing the role of 38-year-old Sunny who claims that his passport was earlier impounded after a criminal case for overstaying in Goa. “We will seek information from the authorities there,” said Singh.
All the 14 are currently in police custody and many have told the cops that they were footballers who are here to play with local clubs or have come for textile business. “We don’t believe it since they have not been able to recognise famous players like Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo. How can they be footballers?” Singh asked.
The East Jaintia Hills Police said the interrogation of the Nigerians revealed that the Indian visa applications of some of them were rejected in the past. “It is likely that since a lot of Nigerians must not be getting Indian visas, they are using the Bangladesh route to enter the country illegally,” Singh said adding investigation is underway to ascertain the larger design behind this spurt in illegal immigration. (Courtesy: HT)