Four Indians sold to mafia in Libya, return home after six months

"They used to give us only one or two slices of bread. We were sold many times," said Manpreet Singh.

Delhi: “They (mafias) used to keep water bottles in front of us, but we were not allowed to drink until our task was complete,” says 19-year-old Manpreet Singh while recalling the hardship endured by him and other Indian nationals in Libya after being “sold as labour.”

The Indian government rescued four individuals from Libya on Friday. The nationals—Parvesh Kumar, Manpreet Singh, Rohit, and Sukhwinder Singh — returned to Delhi on Friday morning.

These young men went to Libya early this year in February after fake travel agents promised them jobs in Italy. All of them were flown from India in February 2023 via Dubai and then Egypt. After a few days, they were landed in Libya and kept in Zuwara City.

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Visibly shaken and shocked, these young men remembered their horrific experiences in the North African country, saying they had to survive on a meagre meal of bread, faced constant punishment for missed deadlines, and were sold as labour multiple times.

Last month, 17 Indian youths, mostly belonging to the Punjab and Haryana states, were rescued by Indian authorities from Libya.

“We were sold to the mafia, who were engaged in the labour work at construction sites. They (mafia) used to keep a bottle of water in front of us but we were not allowed to drink before completing our task.

We faced a lot of hardships. They used to give us only one or two slices of bread. We were sold many times,” said Manpreet Singh.

Manpreet’s mother, Satveer Kaur, who was waiting for his son at the airport early morning, couldn’t control her tears as she saw her son coming out of the airport.

“He left for Libya in January. We could not talk to him for several months and we did not know where he was. These past few months have been tough. My child is back,” said Kaur in a cracking voice.

Kaur wept as she hugged her son. She took out a packet of sweets to distribute among the people.
Another evacuee 22-year-old Sukwinder Singh’s sister came to receive him and got emotional.

“We did not send our child like this. We had no contact with him. We tried contacting everyone. It was an extremely difficult time for us. I am happy my brother is here,” Singh’s sister said.

Sukwinder, while recalling his experience, informed that he and other Indian nationals were sold multiple times.
“We were sold to different mafias after the work. It continued for a month. We somehow were able to contact the embassy. They helped us and brought us back. I am extremely thankful for this,” Sukwinder said.

Parvesh Kumar, who is in his late twenties, was relieved after returning to India.
“I am still in shock. I feel depressed. We have suffered a lot in the past few months. I am happy to be back.

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