'Dunki': The Real "Donkey Flight" Scam Used To Smuggle Illegal Migrants

'Dunki' is based on the illegal route agents use to send people to their dream countries. Here's how it works.

'Dunki': The Real 'Donkey Flight' Scam Used To Smuggle Illegal Migrants

Unaware immigrants often pay huge money to get a visa but are often caught.

The first teaser dropped for Shah Rukh Khan-starrer 'Dunki', which will be released around Christmas this year. The film is said to be an immigration drama that captures the story of a man from Punjab and his journey of immigration to Canada. Rajkumar Hirani has touched upon a popular illegal technique, called "Donkey Flight", an unlawful backdoor entry technique for countries like the US, Canada and the UK. People who use this illegal process to enter a foreign country and often struggle to return home.

What is the "donkey flight" scam?

According to Migration Policy Institute, migrants from India often use this illegal route to enter the country of their choice. The term is based on a Punjabi idiom, which means "to hop from place to place".

The business is spread in Punjab and other parts of India. Here, several "travel agencies" promise guaranteed visas to the country and take hefty money from interested people.

Lured by the prestige of foreign travel and dream of sending large paycheck to relatives at home, thousands of young people pay the high fees in hope of bypassing regular visa applications. But many families are duped, selling land and other possessions to fund a trip abroad.

They are caught by agents at the border in containers and ships etc and deported.

How the conmen work?

UK-based The Times said illegal immigrants use the system of "donkey flights" to enter Britain by the back door through other European Union countries.

The migrants, largely unskilled labourers, pay travel agents to supply visas with which they can fly to one of the countries of the Schengen zone, the area that allows people to travel unhindered between 25 of the European Union's 27 member countries.

When they reach countries like Germany, Belgium or France, they are met by "consultants" who help them to reach Britain, which is not in the Schengen zone and has separate visa restrictions.

For the migrants who are willing to pay the cost, these agents provide fake documents such as residency permit and driving licence. Poorer migrants are smuggled into England in lorries, buses or cars.

A case study

One lorry driver told The Times on condition of anonymity that he entered Britain illegally in 2001 and deported seven years later. The 39-year-old then travelled to Austria on a Schengen visa after paying Rs 300,000.

From Austria, he boarded a train to France, locking himself up in cabin. The man said the ticket collector knocked on the door for some time and then left.

The man then reached Calais, where he met a young British couple who had been paid Rs 1.82 lakh to smuggle him there. "The couple put me in the boot of their car, offered me Famous Grouse, then I fell asleep and woke up in England," he said.

He was later caught in a shoe factory and spent some time in jail before being deported.