No lead yet on a dozen Nepalis held hostage in LibyaNepali authorities are struggling to track down and rescue 12 Nepalis who have been reportedly held hostage in the North African country Libya for months.
Nepali authorities are struggling to track down and rescue 12 Nepalis who have been reportedly held hostage in the North African country Libya for months.
These Nepalis, who were en route to Italy, have been held captive by the agents who had lured them into well-paid jobs in the European country after taking hefty money.
Dhiraj Pratap Singh, a senior superintendent of police at the Metropolitan Police Crime Division, told the Post that an initial probe has revealed that these Nepalis were not kept hostage by the local gangs but by a network of agents, who had promised them access to Italy.
According to Singh, a Pakistani agent named Hamid held them hostage and has been threatening them that their families would be killed if they failed “to pay ransom”.
“We have been trying our best to track them down so that we can launch a rescue operation. So far we have not succeeded,” Singh said.
The Nepali Embassy in Egypt, which also oversees affairs in Libya, has also been using diplomatic channels to rescue the captive Nepalis.
Each of them had paid Rs1.3 million for their passage to Italy and had agreed to pay an equal amount after reaching there. Their journey to Italy had started last September. They had first entered Dubai on visit visa, according to Singh, before they were taken to Libya by the Pakistani agent.
The matter came to light after family members of five Nepali youths came to know they were held captive in Libya when they received a one-minute-long video in which they said the captors “were threatening them to kill”.
“They were allowed to use their phone so that they could contact their families back home and demand money for their release,” Singh said.
Following complaints of the family members at the Department of Foreign Employment and the Central Investigation Bureau, police had arrested Santosh Parajuli of Kathmandu and Jit Kaji Gurung of Pokhara-19 in Kaski district.
During interrogation, the duo admitted to sending them to Italy.
“Last year, they had sent a group of 18 people to Italy after charging Rs2.6 million each,” said Singh. “Their captors have demanded $1,000 per person for their release now.”
Of late Libya has become one of the major transit points for human traffickers to send aspiring migrant workers to Europe and the United States using illegal routes.
“Traffickers have been regularly changing their routes. Once they were using Turkey, now they have shifted to Libya, it seems,” added Singh.