The seven Indian nationals of whom the Department of Immigration lost sight on May 6 have left Antigua and Barbuda – and had official assistance in doing so – sources allege to REAL News.
The group, who had been legally landed the day before, according to the Department, had checked into a hotel for an overnight stay in preparation for flying onward to another island. However, that island reportedly refused them entry and they were so advised.
The Department says they discovered the Indians had absconded when they failed to show up for their May 6 flight – but no alarm was raised.
Sources explain to our Newsroom that the public was not notified because this was not a first-time occurrence.
They allege that at least one other group of seven Indians had been landed previously – with official assistance – and had left here for the other country, which, reportedly, is the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
This group, as well as the group that disappeared on May 6, both hail from the Gujarat State in India, the sources say.
Once these persons arrive in the BVI, the sources claim, they are then smuggled, by boat, into the neighbouring United States Virgin Islands, from which they make their way to the US Mainland.
The recent scandal involving the BVI Premier and the ensuing shake-up at the BVI air and sea ports have resulted in greater scrutiny and tighter security, the sources say.
They believe this is why this latest batch of Indians was denied entry by air and so were forced to leave Antigua and Barbuda by sea.
Meanwhile, other sources tell REAL News that the Haitians who disappeared from the Immigration Department’s Detention Centre are also suspected to have been transported out of this country by fishing boat.
They add that a group of Haitians reportedly left Guadeloupe some time ago in boats – but became separated – and some were lost at sea.
Accordingly, they believe that the Coast Guard’s recent discovery of an empty vessel – from which a foul odour was emanating – is one of the boats that carried the lost Haitian migrants.
That boat was taken into custody by the Police, as was another abandoned vessel that was found off Parham Harbour last year.
One of the sources says it is “shocking how the black Haitians are treated” in these parts, when other nationalities and races “are welcomed here with open arms.”
A similar sentiment was shared by a resident several days ago in objection to the bulletin on the Haitians that was posted by the Immigration Department. At the time, she said the Department’s failure to post on the missing Indians was evidence of racism.
The sources also reminded our Newsroom of the 2015 scandal in which a US Congressman broke the news that Syrian males were being smuggled into the US Virgin Islands, by boat, from Antigua.
They refer to these smuggling activities as “quite a lucrative business.”