New Delhi, July 31: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that illegal agents have started using asylum seeking as a means to traffick people from India to other countries.
She said Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat report the highest number of such cases where agents traffick people to other countries and they seek asylum on political grounds in those countries.
"The illegal agents take Rs 20-25 lakh from these people and some of them have to cross five countries to reach Mexico and upon reaching the US, they seek asylum," she said while addressing a conference of state women commissions on the issues of NRI Marriages and Trafficking of Women and Children on Friday.
However, when embassy officials go to meet these asylum seekers they refuse as the agents have told them that if they meet the officials it would appear that they are being helped by the Indian government and their request for seeking asylum would be rejected, said Swaraj.
"What these agents are doing is also a form of trafficking which mostly trap people falling in the age group of 20-22 years," she said.
Swaraj said the number of people seeking asylum has been climbing. It increased from 52 to 101 to 340.
"We have launched a campaign to spread awareness about such fraudulent agents, advising people to avail the services of only government-authorised agents," she said, noting that there is a need to break the circle of trafficking run by these agents.
Over 7,000 people from India filed applications for asylum in the US last year, according to a report by the UN refugee agency which said America was the largest recipient of new asylum requests in 2017.