Since June I have been staying in Belgium, which is in the European Schengen Zone. Within the Schengen Zone one visa is valid for all countries and there is no border control between member states. I can travel from Belgium to all Schengen countries without having to show a passport or ID card.
Parents in Panjab villages are willing to pay lakhs of rupees to crook ‘travel agents’ who promise to bring their children into that Schengen Zone, where as we all know the roads are paved with gold.
The ‘travel agents’ smuggle their charges to countries like Turkey and then just push them across Greek border. Border guards of both countries recently used such ‘immigrants’ for target practice.
But many still think that once you make it across the Schengen border then you got it made. Local Sikh communities are used as support networks, whether they want it or not. And hopefully it will rain nice crisp Euro banknotes.
Recently I met a young Panjabi who had been in Europe for about ten years. He had bad years and not such bad ones, he had floated from country to country and he had not really achieved anything.
There is work for illegals in all European countries and their over-regulated economies need them. But illegals are usually underpaid, illegals have no job security of any kind and illegals often end up doing the work legal workers do not want to do. As an illegal you are vulnerable.
Some illegals get so desperate that they go into crime. I heard that some illegal Panjabi women worked as prostitutes as that was the only way to earn enough money to pay back those crook ‘travel agents’.
As an illegal it is very difficult to stick to the Sikh way of life. How can people who constantly live in fear be Sikhs without fear ? How can you follow the path of honesty if your life is based on a lie ?
It should not be such a bad life for young unattached people. You just take your chance and if it works that is fine, but if you have to go back to Panjab that is not a disaster either. But the reality is that those people who are forced to return have not earned enough to justify the high fee paid to the ‘travel agent’.
I lived in Panjab for four years and I know that there is more than money that motivates youngsters to emigrate. But because of the present climate in Europe, where most countries want to crack down on immigration, it might be better to stay home. Or maybe young Sikhs should move to Indian states that have policies that benefit the people and not the politicians. There are Sikh communities and Gurdwaras in Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram and Hyderabad !