Bangladeshi caught after crossing into Pakistan with onions

June 4th, 2008 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Harbhajan Singh

Amritsar, June 4 (IANS) A Bangladeshi national who hid himself in a truckload of onions being exported from India to Pakistan was caught by Pakistani border guards and handed over to their Indian counterparts at the Attari-Wagah land border joint check-post near here. The Bangladeshi national, Abu Tahir, 25, was handed over to Border Security Force (BSF) officials after he was caught on the Pakistani side of the border Tuesday night.

BSF officials, who later interrogated him, told IANS Wednesday that the illegal migrant hid himself in the truckload of onions headed for the Pakistani markets from India’s onion producing state of Maharashtra. He remained in the truck for over five hours as the vehicle underwent security and customs checks.

They said Tahir could not have reached that point without the connivance of customs officials.

“He wanted to live a better life in Pakistan,” a BSF official said here.

Before handing over Tahir around midnight Tuesday, the Pakistani Rangers interrogated him for several hours. Truck driver Harbhajan Singh was also returned to India. He also was being questioned by the BSF and other security agencies to ascertain whether a larger illegal immigration racket was operating through the border post.

Both were later handed over to the Punjab police and were interrogated further.

The Pakistan Rangers lodged an official complaint with the BSF about the intruder.

Pakistani security officials chided BSF officials for lax security at their end.

Since Oct 1 last year, both India and Pakistan allow trucks from either side to carry goods to unloading warehouses about one kilometre inside each other’s territory. Trade between the two countries has gone up by at least five times since the facility was introduced.

This is the first instance of human trafficking using the truck trade.

All trucks are loaded in the presence of customs officials and then escorted under security till the zero-line between the two countries.

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