Thursday, June 20, 2024

The ‘Donkey Route’ to America

The upcoming film “Dunki,” starring Shah Rukh Khan, sheds light on the perilous “donkey route,” an illegal immigration method used by people seeking a better life in countries like the US, UK, and Canada. The movie depicts individuals driven by aspirations for improved opportunities and living standards, opting for the challenging journey to settle in ‘first-world’ countries, despite its risks and undesired outcomes.

Originating from a Punjabi idiom, ‘Dunki’ refers to “hopping from one place to another.” It represents a hazardous immigration route undertaken by thousands of Indians to reach countries like the US, the UK, or Europe. The route involves significant financial costs, with a trip to the US ranging from Rs 15-40 lakhs, making it a preferred choice for those pursuing the American Dream.

The journey typically begins by reaching a Latin American country, such as Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Brazil, or Venezuela, where visa processes are more accessible for Indians. Agents facilitating illegal migration operate in these countries, organizing transit and managing ‘links’ for trafficking. After arriving in Colombia, migrants enter Panama, crossing the perilous Darién Gap, facing risks such as lack of clean water, wild animals, and criminal gangs. The route ultimately leads to Mexico, a critical part of the journey involving evasion from government agencies and crossing the US-Mexico border.

Despite the dangers, the ‘Dunki’ method remains popular among individuals from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and Gujarat, facilitated by a network of visa agencies operating with varying degrees of legality. This method of illegal immigration has even been utilized in high-profile cases, such as the recent escape of the alleged shooter in the Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena chief’s murder, Rohit Godara, who reportedly used the ‘Dunki’ route to escape to the US before entering Canada.

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