Visa racket: Arrested Indians seek refugee status in Israel

JERUSALEM: Some of the 24 Indians arrested by Israeli immigration authorities last month in a suspected visa racket have sought refugee status, which will allow them to stay here for some time, senior officials have said.”During interrogation most of them said that they paid two lakh rupees to the Indian agent who promised them a high paid job in Israel. They entered Israel from Bethlehem, where they had come from Jordan, on tourist visas arranged through an Israeli agency,” Head of the Immigration Oz department , Yehuda Ben Ezra said.The surprising thing is that once they realised that they were here on a 7-day tourist visa and false promise of work, they knew where to turn to take a chance of extending there stay,” Ben Ezra said.The 24 Indians, part of a 50-member Christian group from coastal Thiruvananthapuram in India’s southern state of Kerala, took cabs from Jerusalem to Lod to reach the office granting refugee status to eligible intruders, mainly on political grounds.Some of them even had the right papers ready to apply for it and submitted the same on arrival to the Lod office. The remaining members of the group are said to be hiding in Israel as illegal immigrants.”The members of the group did have valid visa for a week for tourism purposes, but no work permit,” spokesperson of the Interior Ministry, Sabin Hadad confirmed.

Sources at the Indian mission in Tel Aviv said that they are following the case closely and officials have already visited the detainees and would be seeing them again tomorrow.”It is a result of anti-social agents on both sides,” they stressed.Twelve of those detained on September 25 by Israeli immigration police were deported to India last week and another group is expected to be sent back soon – Timesofindia