36 Nepali workers held captive in Kashmir rescued, two arrested

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Thirty-six Nepali workers who had been held captive in the Indian state of Kashmir were rescued on Tuesday.

Of the 35 victims, 23 are from Mahottari, nine from Sarlahi, and the remaining are from Dhanusha. Of them, six are minors.

After three months of confinement, the victims were freed and brought to the Indian capital of New Delhi by the Nepali Embassy in India and ‘KIN India’, a social organization that works in rescuing women and children forced into sex work, child labor, and human trafficking in India.

According to Nabin Joshi, director of KIN India, 43 Nepali workers were lured, and this incident came to light after seven workers managed to escape from the workplace.

Saroj Ray, a social worker from Sarlahi, learned of the situation from a Nepali worker who had managed to escape. Ray informed the Nepali and Indian authorities, and on the basis of that, a rescue mission was conducted with the help of the Nepali Embassy in Delhi, the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the Crime Branch of India, and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

According to the workers, they had been lured by agents in hopes of a stable income. However, once they reached Kashmir, their citizenship, mobile phones, and cash were allegedly confiscated, and they were forced to work without pay.

Dinesh Paswan, one of the rescued victims and residents of Sarlahi, said that they were also subjected to physical and mental abuse and inhumane working conditions.

“We were given Rs7,000 as advance payment by agents to win our trust and were promised a daily wage of Rs1,100. We were told that we would be taken to Jammu, but we were taken to Srinagar, Kashmir, instead,” said Paswan. “The employer confiscated all our belongings and had been holding us captive for the past three months. Instead of paying us, they would physically assault and threaten us.”

According to Ranjit Chaudhary, another rescued worker from Dhanusha, the employers at first took their citizenship, money, and phones and put all the 43 Nepali workers in a single room, and they also threatened to kill or hand them over to Indian authorities by addressing them as terrorists if they didn’t do what the employers said.

“All the workers were assaulted for three months, and they were not given proper food, sleep, or clothes. We did not bathe for three months or change our clothes for three months,” said Chaudhary.

 The Foreign Ministry, Nepali Embassy in New Delhi, and ‘KIN India’ were then informed, Ray said.

According to the Senior Superintendent of Police at the Consular’s Office, Uma Prasad Chaturvedi, efforts are underway to book the suspects and put them on trial in coordination with the Kashmir police.

“The local police were very helpful in identifying the place the victims were held captive and rescuing them,” Chaturvedi said. “The support of Kin India and social worker Saroj Ray became crucial to accomplishing the mission. Soon, the rescued victims will be returned to Nepal after completing the necessary paperwork”

A strict action will be taken against the perpetrators, Chaturvedi further added.

During the rescue mission, authorities also arrested two people involved in the trafficking of the workers. Further investigation into the incident is going on, said Indian authorities.