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May, 27

17 Indian nationals from Punjab, Haryana held captive in Libya evacuated

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A group of 17 Indian nationals from Punjab and Haryana, held captive in Libya for months, were successfully evacuated to India on Sunday following long winding talks between the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Libyan government, sources have said.

“The Indians were being held captive by an armed group in Zwara City in Libya after they were trafficked from India. Our Embassy in Tunis regularly pursued the matter with Libyan authorities throughout May and June, as well as through informal channels,” the source said.

While the Libyan authorities were able to rescue the Indian nationals on June 13, they kept them in their custody as they had illegally entered the country.

“Following high level intervention by our Ambassador in Tunis and senior MEA officials from New Delhi, Libyan authorities agreed to release them,” the source added.

Coerced into travelling Libya

There have been instances where men from India were duped into going to Libya by agents falsely promising them jobs in Dubai. In March this year, 12 men, mostly from Punjab, were rescued by the MEA from Libya where they were made to perform forced labour. They were promised well-paying jobs in Dubai by a travel agent in Punjab and then coerced into travelling to Libya where they were forced to work without salaries, another source said.

The Indian Embassy in Tunis looked after the needs of the 17 Indians, once they were rescued from militants by the Libyan government but taken into custody, including providing essential food items, medicines and clothes, the source said. “Since they did not have passports, emergency certificates were issued for their travel to India. Tickets for return to India were also provided and paid for by the Indian Embassy,” he added.





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