For the villagers of Dingucha in Gujarat, overseas means the United States as it will be the only country they would probably think beyond India and at most times, the western country dominates their minds as a large number of people are raised with the dream of going to America in search of a sophisticated lifestyle. For some, the journey towards the west was of no major hindrance. But for a section of people, of course, dreamers, the path is chilling and filled with potholes and traps. Unless staying vigil, it will engulf them.
One such path has become hell for a family of the village as their passage towards the west with the dream of entering the United States ended up on cold ice, in what has become the latest incident of an evasive dream. This young family, including a three-year-old, were frozen to death at the US-Canada border on January 19 and their bodies were identified on Friday. The dreadful event had thrown more lights on the dark network that trades the tickets for the illegal entry.
With more dreamers in the village and across the country, these agents grow rampant with new targets of making money through showing a flawed and slippery path to enter the United States. Unfortunately, the dreamers decide to risk their lives and assets and begin their journey. Dingucha village sits near Gujarat's capital Gandhinagar and it has a population of 3,000 people. Unbelievably, over 1,800 people, a majority of the village's population, live in the United States.
The generation of people began migrating to the United States during the 1970s and the next generations are being born and raised with the dream of following their ancestors. Though they are aware of losing their respectful life on their soil, their minds are ready to take up any blue-collar job in the United States. Their yearning to move to the United States makes them blind to the grim path that lies ahead if they hire an agent to arrange their journey.
According to reports, the village, which is majorly occupied by the Patel community, will find agents who would promise the family to take them to the United States at the cost of Rs 65 lakh. In a place where going to America is a dream even the people don't have a passport, it's no surprise that the people including degree holders and graduates try to move to the United States. However, they would end up working as labours by losing their respectful life back in their homes.
The family, that died at the US-Canada border, was part of a cluster that chose to enter the United States through an agent. The family was led by 35-year-old Jagdish Patel, who was a school teacher. He and his family - his wife Vaishali (33) and their two children Vihanngi (13) and Dharmik (3), had decided to enter the United States and hired an agent at a cost of Rs 65 lakh. The family had begun saving money a decade ago and these agents would drive the people without proper visas and work permits.
After hiring the agent, the Patel family had joined a group of others from the village and they had reached Canada. Their plan was to enter the US State of North Dakota through a Canadian border. While the reports say that other groups had managed to find shelter, the Patel family had got trapped on the ice when they tried to enter the United States. All four, including the 3-year-old kid, had eventually died and their bodies were frozen. When their bodies were recovered, the temperature at the border was minus 35 degree celsius.
Speaking to Vibes of India, a resident of Dingucha village has said that the Patel family had arranged an agent to take them to the United States illegally, through the Canadian border. A person close to the family said that Jagdish had been planning to move to the United States for several years as more than half his family had settled down in America. It must be noted that in 2021, a 24-year-old man from Mehsana, another district of Gujarat had paid over Rs 30 lakh to the agent to enter the US. He was arrived at the Mexico border along with the group only to get arrested by the US Border Patrol and he was then taken to a detention centre in Louisiana.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) Superintendent Rob Hill said the Patel family first arrived in Canada on January 12, on a flight to Toronto. From there, they made their way west to the province of Manitoba, before travelling to Emerson - border town - on or around January 18 and their bodies were found the next night. The deaths of the Patel family had shocked the Indian Community in Manitoba. Speaking to BBC, Ramandeep Grewal, the president of the India Association of Manitoba, said, "There's a common sense of feeling guilty, like something has gone wrong." The RCMP has launched an investigation into how the Patels made their way to Canada and the US and India will be coordinating the probe.