Two police officers from Punjab, S K Sharma, additional director general of police, and Gurpreet Kaur Deo, inspector general of police (non-resident Indian affairs), were in the San Francisco Bay Area December 13 to address the grievances of the community.
"NRIs face problems in Punjab," Deo told India Abroad. "We have cases where innocent people have been framed."
She said NRIs have very little time at their disposal when they come to India. Even though the government has set up a wing to help them with domestic and land issues many people are not aware of these facilities.
"Unless you reach out to people and let them know there are facilities available for them, they are not going to know about them. Our coming here is more about our outreach programme," said Deo. "If NRIs have problems, they can get in touch with our office through e-mail. The agenda is to get justice as quickly as possible."
In 2004 a separate NRI wing was set up at the police headquarters in Chandigarh to address issues faced by the Diaspora.
The police officers also visited Los Angeles, Dallas, Fresno and Cleveland to meet the Punjabi community. Deo said most of the cases she came across were either matrimonial or property disputes.
She said, "Another added advantage of coming to the US was that we got in touch with the (Indian) consulate in San Francisco and discussed about sharing information. The consulate is now going to be in regular touch with us. We are going to help them with information as early as possible."
Anand Jha, consul, community affairs, said, "From time to time, senior officials from different Indian state governments visit the US to interact with the community and to understand their needs so as to improve the facilities that are provided to them back home."
The consul said during a meeting with the consul general, the police officers discussed programs undertaken by the consulate in San Francisco and agreed to coordinate in overcoming difficulties regarding schools, real estate transactions etc, faced by the community when they are in India.
Deo said illegal immigration was a major issue. "The US and UK have made immigration difficult now, so it is getting tougher to go abroad legally, there are travel agents in Punjab who are cheating people," she added.
To help NRIs, the Punjab government has set up a video conferencing facility and also provided for filing online cases. Deo explained the procedures for registration of First Information Reports, eviction of tenants and disputes regarding revenue matters.
Sharma said some NRIs have hired contract killers to eliminate people thinking they are sitting outside the country and can evade the law. "We are taking up those cases," he said. He asked the attendees to submit a copy of the cases they have filed with the Punjab police's NRI wing.
Over 100 people attended the meeting organised by the North America Punjab Association, a Bay area nonprofit. Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves felicitated the Indian police officers.
"The meeting will help build a good relationship between the Punjab police and NRIs" said NAPA President Satnam Chahal. "We will organise such events in different cities of the US, Canada and UK."