LAHORE/RAWALPINDI: Over a dozen more Chinese nationals and seven locals were arrested while a few Pakistani girls were rescued on Tuesday amid an intensified crackdown on the gangs involved in fake marriages with Pakistani girls for trafficking them to China allegedly for organ removal and sexual exploitation.
Ten Chinese nationals along with their three local accomplices were arrested in Lahore, while another three Chinese nationals and four locals were held during separate raids in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on charges of fraud, forgery and women trafficking.
The arrest of the 20 suspects came a day after 11 members of a Chinese gang were taken into custody by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in Lahore amid reports that over 90 Pakistani women, many of them belonging to less privileged Christian families, have already been trafficked after being trapped into fake marriages.
As the sex and human trafficking scam came to light, federal Interior Minister retired Brig Ijaz Ahmad Shah took notice of the issue directing the officials to engage ambassadors and government officials in the matter while chairman of the Senate standing committee on interior Rehman A. Malik sought a detailed report from relevant officials on the issue within the next three days.
20 suspects, including seven locals, arrested in separate raids
On Tuesday, an FIA team raided a couple of houses in a neighbourhood near the Allama Iqbal International Airport where they arrested nine Chinese men and a woman along with their three local accomplices. During the raids, which were conducted under the supervision of Deputy Director Jamil Ahmad Khan Mayo, the FIA team also rescued two Pakistani brides.
“Acting on the information obtained from the Chinese nationals held a day ago, we arrested 10 more Chinese for their alleged involvement in trafficking Pakistani girls to China,” a senior official told Dawn.
The suspects were being interrogated, he said, hinting at further arrests in the coming days.
The FIA swung into action on reports that some Chinese nationals were allegedly involved in sexual exploitation and organ selling of the Pakistani girls they took along with them as brides to China. Last week the FIA had arrested two such Chinese bridegrooms while contracting marriage in Faisalabad. The FIA said the Chinese gang would target poor families, mostly Christians, in different cities of Punjab. “The gang would bear all expenses of the marriage and also give cash and gifts to the bride’s family,” it said.
Extending the scope of their ongoing crackdown on the gangs to Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the anti-human trafficking cell of the FIA conducted raids in the twin cities and arrested seven suspects, including three Chinese nationals.
The FIA later sent a report to the Ministry of Interior, while the Chinese embassy in Islamabad was also informed about the arrests.
Speaking to Dawn, the deputy director of the anti-human trafficking cell in Rawalpindi, Kamran Ali, said the raids were conducted on the complaints lodged by two Pakistani girls, Tayyaba Gul and N. Benish Rasheed, with the FIA director general.
Both victims of fake marriage narrated to the FIA DG how they were being exploited by a gang led by Chinese nationals, he said. Subsequently, Mr Ali added, the FIA DG ordered a crackdown for which the FIA Islamabad Zone director constituted a team under his supervision.
He said three Chinese nationals, including their gang leader Song Chuaoyang, along with Sajid, the facilitator, Rafiq Hussain, the translator, were arrested. He explained that the FIA team during a raid in Islamabad’s sector E-11 arrested two suspected couples Guyong Da along with Saima Mustafa, and Fusing Bu along with Saba Jahangir.
Besides, the FIA also seized copies of marriage certificates from their procession.
Mr Song, the suspected gang leader arrested by the FIA, had already tempered with his birth record in China to show himself as Muslim. The Chinese arrested by the FIA had travelled to Islamabad on the “visa-on-arrival” facility and had been residing in Sector E-11, the FIA sources explained.
They said the Chinese nationals used to claim themselves as Muslim with the help of fake conversion certificates in a bid to cheat the Pakistani families.
As many as six fake marriages came to light during FIA’s investigation as the Chinese nationals maintained their marriage with Pakistani girls for two to three months and later divorced them. “As many as four divorce cases have also surfaced so far,” a senior official of the FIA said, adding that two or three more women were likely to be arrested in connection with the fake marriage scam.
According to the sources, two couples comprising Chinese bridge grooms and two Pakistani girls had flown to China only a few days ago from Islamabad International Airport, however, they were allowed to travel as there had been no intimation from any law enforcement agency to stop them from travelling.
Only a day ago, the FIA had arrested eight Chinese nationals, including a woman, along with their four local accomplices in Lahore. The FIA had also rescued four Pakistani brides who were later handed over to their families.
When the FIA deputy director was asked whether there was any police official involved in the fake marriage scam, he said it was yet to be confirmed, as investigation was under way to arrest other gang members.
The FIA registered two separate FIRs against the Chinese suspects and the local facilitators. The FIA also traced two to three local women who arranged marriages for the Chinese men though efforts were on to arrest them.
Preliminary investigation by the FIA showed that the Chinese men paid cash and gold ornaments to the Pakistani facilitators for marriage with Pakistani girls.
Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2019