A group of over 25 men from Haryana paid approximately Rs 85 lakh each for a complex journey from Dubai to Nicaragua, intending to enter the US on boats through Mexico. Aboard the Dubai-Nicaragua Legend Airways Airbus A340, the men, hailing from Ladwa, Pehowa, Yamunanagar, and Kaithal, were aware of the unconventional route, known as the “donkey route,” but were assured of its legal safety. The plan involved obtaining valid tourist visas for Nicaragua, with the final leg of the journey being risky but supposedly legally secure.
The travellers, trained for contingencies, were promised legal assistance if needed and believed the last part of their journey to the US was the only potential risk. However, the unpopularity of Nicaragua as a tourist destination raised suspicions in France, where the plan was exposed. Despite having valid visas, the group faced scrutiny in France, and many developed cold feet during questioning, leading to their return.
While no official investigations are underway against the travellers, the revelation has shed light on private firms and touts involved in facilitating multi-hop journeys known as the “donkey route” to reach the US and Canada via stops in Europe and South American countries. The exposed operation involves creating fake documents and paper trails. After the release of the movie ‘Dunki‘ by Raj Kumar Hirani and Shahrukh Khan, we are becoming aware of a term and a problem that many Indians traveling abroad are encountering. This involves individuals who go abroad through unofficial routes, revealing a significant issue in the process of foreign travel.
The police, particularly in Gujarat, have identified four kingpins in the case, emphasizing the involvement of specialized operations and transactions through the hawala route. Seventeen FIRs have been registered in Gujarat, and the police suspect the presence of more individuals involved in the racket. The travellers have stated that they did not directly pay for the journey, and the investments were made by agents. The incident exposes the intricate networks facilitating unconventional routes for those seeking to migrate to the US and Canada.