The regional immigration office in Phuentsholing on May 18 detained nine unidentified non-Bhutanese men for allegedly attempting to obtain work permits using fake Indian voter cards.

A labour contractor is also under detention. He had arranged fake voter cards for the men with details of registered voters. They were paid Rs 300 each for this deal.

Although the men claimed to be from Bihar and West Bengal, India, they were detained for “misguiding immigration officials and using others’ identity.” The immigration office will forward the case to the court.

Regional director Sangay Tenzing said those using details of registered voters and preparing fake voter cards have to be dealt severely.

“Besides having serious security threats to our country from these unidentified people, they would also be putting innocent registered individual into trouble,” the regional director said.

If impersonators manage to obtain permits using other people’s voter cards, Sangay Tenzing said it would restrict entry into the country for others since impersonators would have already used their identities.

The immigration office is able to trace this because the biometric system detects the record of all entering the country. If a person (impersonator) has used somebody’s voter card or their other identity documents, then the latter would not be allowed to enter. The worst would be if impersonators died, the immigration office shared.

In such cases, it will make both employers and relevant agencies difficult to trace their correct home addresses to handover their bodies because they would have had used others’ identities.

Sangay Tenzing said easy availability of fake Indian voter cards across the border is a challenge to immigration officials. “But we do have our own strategies to detect such practices,” he said.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing