Protector general of emigrants M C Luther has warned recruiting agents against not following the MEA guidelines, which will invite penal action and prosecution. He added that, “We already have your names, please get ready for licence cancellation.” He was of the opinion that despite government’s travel ban on countries like Iraq and Libya, many ECNR (emigration check not required) passport holders still travel to these countries. This can be attributed to lacunae in law and allurement of handsome salaries abroad, which help unscrupulous travel agents to play with the lives of innocent Punjabi job aspirants in foreign countries. And in majority of cases these travel agents escape the clutches of law in absence of their record with the government. Talking to TOI on Saturday, director, Federation of Indian Manpower Councils and Association, Anil Yadav said that unscrupulous travel agents deliberately recruit ECNR passport holders for sending them to banned countries since their name wouldn’t be on any government record, besides this will fetch huge sum of money from job aspirants. “They neither advertise the jobs nor take permission from the authorities concerned,” he said. Asked why ECNR passport holder are picked by sub-agents of main recruiters from villages, he explained that the ECR (emigration check required) passport holder job aspirants had to go through the mandatory process of emigration clearance through the MEA, which would not give clearance for travel to banned countries. “Hence to bypass the MEA check the unscrupulous travel agents recruit ECNR passport holders, for which no emigration check is required,” he said. Secondly, he said that since there was no permission required from the MEA for ECNR passport holders, no one could ever get to know the exact number of people travelling to Iraq. “Not only the ministry lacks any actual data of these Indian citizens going to Iraq but there was no details available for recruiting agents since their name don’t figure in records in case they send ECNR passport holder to the banned country,” he said. About the modus operandi, he said that fraudsters send employment seekers to Dubai on visit visa and then the local handlers further send them to various cities of Iraq after obtaining entry permit. High salaries was the main reason for Punjabi youth to risk their lives in these countries. Yadav said that salaries were the highest in Iraq as compared to other gulf nations. “If a worker gets Rs 20,000 in the UAE, he will get around Rs 70,000 for the same job in Iraq,” he said, adding that heavy trailer drivers get up to Rs 1.5 lakh in Iraq whereas they get only around Rs 50,000 in the UAE, which was the main reason for Punjabi youths to risk their life to bring prosperity back home. Regional passport officer, Amritsar, Krishan Kumar said the passport office had no role in checking the illegal practice of sending job aspirants to other nations. “Our role is limited to issuing passport to any applicant.” Only in few cases the victims approach the police for action against these illegal travel agents but the issue is rather settled amicably. Giving an example, Gurmail Singh of Batala said that he had paid around Rs 3 lakh to a travel agent for sending his son to Canada but the agent sent him to Dubai, promising that he would be travelling to Canada within a few days, which, he said didn’t happen. “My son came back. I wanted to file an FIR against the agent but there was an intermediary who settled the issue after the travel agent returned Rs 2 lakh” he added.