24 US-bound youths feared drowned

1Jalandhar, Twentytwo to 24 youths from Punjab bound for the United States may have drowned, their families back home are apprehending, in a boat capsize near Panama. The youths, it is believed, were being transported for an illegal entry by a travel agent.
AAP leader Sukhpal Khaira flagged the issue at a press conference today, while asking the Centre and Punjab government to get the matter probed, as well as confirm the whereabouts of the youths.
The Kapurthala police, meanwhile, have booked travel agent Kulwinder Singh Multani for fraud. He is absconding, though SSP Rajinder Singh said efforts were on to trace him.
An inconsolable Bachan Singh from Jaid village said his 21-year-old son Gurvinder Singh was among those feared dead. “We got to know about the incident on January 12-13. On January 15, I went to the house of Sonu, from Luroi village under Begowal police station, who survived the capsize and called up his family. His wife told me that my son and  Gurjit Singh from Tandi Aulakh village were among the 22 to 24 youths who drowned.”
Bachan Singh accused Multani of luring him into sending his son to the US. “A deal was fixed at Rs 25 lakh, of which I have already paid Rs 10 lakh.
Gurvinder left on October 15 and last spoke to us on January 10. We were assured by Multani that the
youths would be taken to the US through the land route. They were kept in Maldives for several days and then taken to Brazil from Delhi. On January 10, Gurvinder told me he was starting from Turbo in Columbia towards the US and asked us not to call him for eight to 10 days. When I confronted the agent, he asked me that only the destination mattered,” Bachan Singh claimed.
Bachan had sold off his land and borrowed money from his relatives to send Gurvinder abroad.
A close aide of the Deputy Chief Minister-cum Home Minister, said he was not aware about the tragedy. There was no statement from the government regarding any efforts being made to get in touch with the Centre to inquire about the incident.

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