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Greece boat tragedy: First case registered against agents in Gujranwala

By Asif Mahmood Butt & News Desk
June 19, 2023


GUJRANWALA/ISLAMABAD: In the wake of Greece boat tragedy, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other law-enforcing agencies have launched a crackdown on the agents involved in sending Pakistanis abroad illegally.

The first case in this regard was registered by the FIA Composite Circle Gujranwala against the agents involved in human smuggling. According to the FIR, No C-188/2023, a copy of which is available with the reporter, the case was registered on the basis of a report, received by the FIA headquarters from Pakistan Embassy in Athens (Italy). The report said that a large number of illegal immigrants were travelling from Benghazi (Libya) to Italy without legal documents in a boat on June 14. However, the boat capsized and Greek coast guards saved lives of 12 Pakistanis.

One of the survivors, Ali Hamza, son of Abdul Ghafoor, resident of Chak Nizam Kalan, Gujranwala, told the embassy staff that he paid Rs2.4 million to agents, including Nadeem Aslam, son of Muhammad Aslam, resident of Chowk Dharam Kot, tehsil Daska; Muhammad Mumtaz, resident of Mailsi, district Vehari, currently living in Jandiala Baghwala, district Gujranwala; and Asif Suniyara, son of Muhammad Ayub, a resident of Ghareebpura in Gujrat, for sending him abroad.

Another survivor, Rana Husnain, son of Rana Naseer Ahmad, a resident of Bhano Pindi Jamke Chhatha, Tehsil Daska, told the embassy staff that he paid Rs2.3 million to agents Rana Naqqash, son of Abdul Sattar, resident of Jamke Chhatha, Riyasat, resident of Gujranwala, and Asif Suniyara of Gujrat for sending him to Italy. The case was registered against the agents under sections EO-1979, 6-PSMA and 17/22-3 for sending people abroad illegally after getting heavy amounts.

A spokesperson for FIA confirmed in a statement that the agency had arrested a travel agent Talha Shahzeb. The accused from Sheikhupura had allegedly received Rs3.5 million to illegally send a youth to Greece. The spokesperson added that the agent was arrested by the agency after receiving information from the affected youth’s family. A case was registered against the accused and further investigation was underway, the FIA confirmed.

Earlier, a media outlet had reported that at least 298 Pakistanis had died, 135 from Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) in boat capsize incident. One estimate indicated that about 400 Pakistanis were on board. Pakistan’s foreign ministry has so far confirmed that only 12 of the 78 survivors were from Pakistan.

According to the latest statistics, the number of missing persons from Gujrat has reached 47. It was learnt that six persons went missing from Goleki village, three from Qasimabad, two from Tahli, two from an area in the vicinity of the Shaheen police station, three from an area of the Saddar police station, 11 from the vicinity of the Danga police station, four from the Rehmania police station, three from the vicinity of the Kakrali police station, 10 from the Bolani police station, two from the Kot Qutbuddin police station and one from the vicinity of the Nathu Kot police station. The UN human rights office said that up to 500 people are still missing from a migrant boat that sank off Greece. The spokesman Jeremy Laurence said that large numbers of women and children were among those missing in the “horrific tragedy” that left 78 people dead. He added that the appalling loss of life underscored the need to bring people smugglers to justice.