|(From top) Mandeep, Baljeet, Parvesh, Ektaa and Rajwant
Mandeep VIRK aged 19, 5'1" tall, heavy build, with black waist-length straight hair, brown eyes, wearing red T-shirt and blue jeans
Baljeet KAUR aged 22, 5'8" tall, slim build, black short hair, brown eyes
Parvesh RANI aged 25, 5' tall, slim build, black collar-length straight hair, brown eyes, white shirt and jeans
Ekta ANDOTRA aged 21, 5'4" tall, slim build, black shoulder-length straight hair, brown eyes
Rajwant KAUR aged 24, 5'4" tall, medium build, black shoulder-length straight hair, brown eyes
Police in London have released names and descriptions of the five Indian girls who went missing earlier this month after arriving in the United Kingdom to play cricket as part of a club team from Jalandhar.
They are not WANTED — as in wanted for a suspected crime — yet. But Scotland Yard said: “We are concerned they are missing.”
A 13-member team reached the UK on August 9 for a month-long cricket tour and played two games on the next two days. On the afternoon of August 12, a member of the team reported that some players were missing.
“Enquiries are continuing,” said a police spokeswoman.
“We are appealing for information. We would like them to say where they are and that they are safe and well.”
As of now police are not looking at the possibility of the girls having disappeared with the purpose of illegally staying on in the UK, but Baljeet’s mother, Vazir Kaur, gave a twist to the tale on Thursday by accusing the team manager of cheating.
She said she had paid the manager, Ravi Sharma, who owns Lynex Tours and Travels in Jalandhar, Rs 2.5 lakh to ensure Baljeet got a six-month visa.
The cricket team the girls represent carries the same name as the travel agency — Lynex.
“It was only after landing in England that Baljeet informed us that the visa was only for 21 days,” said Vazir, a resident of Begowal village in Kapurthala.
Punjab police confirmed that the families of the girls had told them about paying Sharma. “They paid sums ranging from Rs 1 to 2.5 lakh,” said Shammi Kumar, SP, headquarters.
The girls are fast running out of legal time to spend in the UK. “After September 10, if they continued to remain at large, it will be a violation of the immigration law,” an official said in London.
All the women took their personal luggage with them but left behind their passports at one of the two houses in Hounslow, west London, where the team was staying, enabling the police to release their pictures.
Detective inspector Brent Lancaster, the officer in charge of the case, said: “At this stage, we believe that these women may have gone off on a pre-planned adventure — after all, they are on holiday. We want them to know that they haven’t broken any laws, but because they did not tell anyone where they are, we need them to make contact with us or one of their friends on the cricket team to let everyone know they are OK. I must stress, they are not in any trouble, we just need to know if they are safe.”
But Sergeant Vince Harte of the Hounslow missing persons unit expressed doubts about the real intentions of the girls after enquiries with two of the families in Jalandhar.
“They did not even ask about their daughters’ welfare and the conversation indicated the disappearing act was pre-planned,” he told PTI.
On the day they disappeared, one of the girls was seen loading their possessions into a car with two men.
A Jalandhar police officer said Sharma, who had been thrown out of the local cricket club for breaking rules, had taken some of the girls on a tour of Sri Lanka in May.
Paramjit Kaur said Rajwant, her sister and one of the missing five, had called her twice saying that Sharma had taken her money and passport. According to her, he later returned the money but kept back the passport, a version that does not match with the fact that all five travel documents had been found in the Hounslow house.
“Rajwant said the girls had a fight with Rashmi, a member of the team and Sharma’s daughter, which made them flee,” Paramjit said.
Baljeet’s mother said when she called the residence of Sharma, his son warned her against pursuing the case.
The cricketers were due to play friendly matches as part of Colwell Cricket Week in Hertfordshire.
The organiser, Coral Handley, said the girls were “very pleasant” but the behaviour of some was odd.
“There was a group of five that we were particularly suspicious of,” she said. “Three didn’t even play and said they were injured and the other two we didn’t totally trust.”
The disappearance will strengthen the resolve of racist immigration officers who believe most Indians are potential illegal immigrants dying to slip into Britain.