17 Indian men held captive in Libya for bounded labour return home

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A group of 17 men who were extradited from Libya after a harrowing period of six months arrived on Sunday night.

Emotions overwhelmed several parents at Delhi airport when they embraced their children tightly with tears streaming down their faces. They are the parents of 17 Indian men who were stuck in Libya under the captivity of a mafia for the last 6 months.

These individuals had found themselves trapped in Libya after being duped by deceptive travel agents who had enticed them with promises of employment opportunities in Italy.

Hailing from the states of Punjab and Haryana, each of these men paid a sum of Rs 13 Lakh to an agent, enticed by the promise of lucrative employment opportunities in Libya. However, their dreams were shattered when they realized that the work permits provided were in Arabic, rendering them utterly baffled.

The parents of the captive men managed to contact MP Vikramjit Singh in May, who subsequently liaised with the Indian Embassy in Tunisia to orchestrate their rescue. Responding swiftly, the Punjab Police established a dedicated Special Investigation Team (SIT) to unearth the intricate details of this grim affair.

Singh shared the unsettling details of the escape, recounting how the victims managed to break free from their captors and sought refuge in a hotel. Regrettably, their sanctuary was short-lived as the hotel owner alerted local authorities, leading to their unfortunate reapprehension. The absence of an Indian embassy in Libya further complicated matters, requiring coordination with the Tunisian embassy.

Rahul Sharma, one of the victims hailing from Kurukshetra, Haryana, shared the nightmare they endured. “Four months ago I went to Libya but later we were sold to Libi as bound labourers. We used to work for hours without food and water or survive on a single piece of bread for two days. Toilet and drinking were in the same place”.

Sandeep, another victim from Deera Bassi, Punjab, echoed a similar harrowing narrative of being ensnared by false promises and then subjected to a life of misery. “I went to Dubai on a tourist visa. There I met an immigration agent who lured us to better working opportunities in Libya in the oil sector. In Libya we were sold for 5,000 Libiyan Dinnar. They took our phones and our passports. They used to beat us when we refused to work. Even jail in Libya was worse”.