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Persecuted and oppressed Afghan sikhs on trial for coming into UK illegally

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Hundreds of Afghan asylum seekers snuck into the UK using British Sikhs' passports - because turbans on ID photos meant border officials couldn't spot the difference 

  • Border officials are said to have difficulty distinguishing between the illegal immigrants and genuine passport holders because of turbans in ID documents
  • Daljit Kapoor, 41, Harmit Kapoor, 40, and Davinder Chawla appeared in court
  • They provided Sikhs from Afghanistan with passports of family members

By Anthony Joseph for MailOnline

Published: 16:36, 14 March 2017 | Updated: 18:20, 14 March 2017

Border officials are said to have difficulty distinguishing between the illegal immigrants and genuine passport holders because Sikh men are allowed to wear turbans in their ID documents

Hundreds of Afghan asylum seekers snuck into the UK using British Sikhs' passports - because turbans on their photos meant border officials couldn't spot the difference. 

 

Border officials are said to have difficulty distinguishing between the illegal immigrants and genuine passport holders because Sikh men are allowed to wear turbans in their ID documents.

Today three Sikh men Daljit Kapoor, 41, Harmit Kapoor, 40, and Davinder Chawla, 42, admitted running a scam providing Sikhs from the war-torn country with passports of family members who most looked like them so they could pass themselves off as British citizens.

Around 30 people from the same Afghans Sikh community are said to have successfully claimed asylum after paying the trio £12,000 per family to enter the UK.

But the authorities believe there may be hundreds more as the scam is believed to have gone on for a number of years undetected.

The three will be sentenced at Inner London Crown Court later this month for their part in the smuggling racket.

A gang member would drive to Paris with genuine passports of family members and hand them over to men, women and children so they could get through airport security.

Once in the country the gang retrieved the passports and reused them with new groups and families.

The gang is also understood to have operated from Thailand.

It was not until easyJet staff noticed something was wrong and alerted French authorities that the conspiracy was unearthed.

In June 2014 Chawla drove to France and boarded a flight with around 11 Afghan Sikhs, making up three families, but were stopped when they entered the UK.

Edward Aydin, prosecuting at an earlier hearing at Camberwell Magistrates' Court, said: 'We say these three men are the facilitators in this organisation, this organised crime, where they are using genuine British passport holders within the Sikh community.

'It's a Sikh conspiracy and it's occurring because it's very difficult for the authorities at the border control to distinguish who's who on the passports.'

Outside court a legal source said: 'They would get the passports of their relatives and marry them up with the asylum seekers who most looked like them, obviously the beards and turbans made it easier.

'But it was also the women and children as well, whole families were being brought in.

'And once they are here, because they from Afghanistan and are claiming to be persecuted by the Taliban, they can't be sent back.

'They have been doing this for a long time, probably years, and have made a hell of a lot of money doing it, charging around £12,000 per family.

'We don't know for how long because they way they did it is virtually undetectable, there are probably hundreds of people who have come into the country this way that his group have helped.

'It was only when easyJet staff noticed something was wrong and alerted French authorities that we found out about it.'

The three will be sentenced at Inner London Crown Court later this month for their part in the smuggling racket
 
 
+2

The three will be sentenced at Inner London Crown Court later this month for their part in the smuggling racket

Both Kapoors, of Hounslow, who are cousins, and Chawla, of Isleworth, who is also a member of the same extended family, appeared at Inner London Crown Court and sat in the dock alongside two interpreters.

As their trial was about to start, three of the defendants pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to help asylum seekers to enter the UK illegally between May and June 2014.

Harmit Kapoor also admitted booking flights between June 8 and June 21, 2014, for the asylum seekers to get to Britain.

Chawla admitted hiring a vehicle to facilitate their entry into the country when he drove to Paris.

A fourth suspect, Joginder Dawan, 41, pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to help asylum seekers enter the UK and one charge of assisting the offence by allowing his passport to be used to book flights and travel.

Not guilty verdicts were recorded for both counts and he was discharged.

In February 2011 Chawla, along with four other men was jailed for five years for also helping illegal immigrants enter the country as part of an identical conspiracy.

The gang was given a total of 26 years between them. 

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