Police arrest mastermind of human trafficking racketThe 40-year-old was involved in smuggling Nepalis into Libya, promising them lucrative jobs in European countries
Police on Friday arrested a man on the charge of trafficking Nepalis to Libya.
During interrogation, police found that Lokman Rai, 40, was the mastermind of a human trafficking racket that would promise lucrative jobs to unsuspecting Nepalis in European countries. Rai’s arrest followed complaints from 15 Nepalis who were rescued from Libya with support from the Nepali peacekeeping troops in the north African country and the International Organisation for Migration.
According to police, the trafficking racket had promised the 15 Nepalis jobs in Italy.
According to the anti-human trafficking bureau of Nepal Police, Rai has been involved in human trafficking for a long time and that he was arrested in the past as well.
“Rai picked his targets from labour offices. He would convince them that they would get jobs in European countries,” Deputy Superintendent of Police Raj Kumar Silwal of the bureau, told the Post. “He would even fix some other people to persuade the unsuspecting job seekers to accept his offer, saying that they too had landed lucrative jobs in European countries. Ultimately, the ‘targets’ would land in Libya.”
On Friday, Rai was arrested from the vicinity of Kathmandu Labour Office under the Department of Foreign Employment. Police then picked up his aide, who has been identified as Rahul Thapa.
“We have identified some other people involved in the racket. We have launched a manhunt,” said Silwal. “Rai’s interrogation is under way to identify other individuals operating trafficking rings. There are still many Nepalis in Libya who were trafficked by different groups.”
In February, the Central Investigation Bureau had arrested Santosh Parajuli and Jit Kaji Gurung for trafficking Nepalis to Libya. They were caught following complaints to the Department of Foreign Employment from family members of five Nepalis held captive in Libya.
According to police, the youths were allowed to use their phones so that they could contact their families back home and demand money for their release. The captors had demanded $1,000 per person.
The anti-trafficking bureau also arrested Yogesh Sapkota, 26, from Satdobato on Thursday. Sapkota was caught following a complaint from a family that was cheated and robbed in New Delhi in February.
According to the bureau, Sapkota had assured Rajan (name changed) that he would help him fly to Canada. A group run by Sapkota then had taken Rajan to New Delhi.
After Rajan reached New Delhi, Sapkota asked him to arrange for $22,000. Rajan then asked his family for the money. Rajan’s father and his maternal uncle had then reached the Indian capital with the amount.
However, when the duo had landed in Delhi, Sapkota called them to a hotel room while Rajan was taken to the Indira Gandhi International Airport, saying that he was set to fly to Canada.
But those who took Rajan to the airport disappeared. Rajan then returned to the hotel only to find his father and the maternal uncle unconscious.
“Sapkota had already fled with the money. During preliminary investigation, we found that the group also had the intention of removing the duo’s organs for trade,” Silwal told the Post.
According to the bureau, the perpetrators are being investigated under the Human Trafficking and Transportation (Control) Act, 2064.
The United States, in its ‘2018 Trafficking in Persons Report’, places Nepal in Tier 2. According to the report, the countries belonging to Tier 2 have governments that do not fully meet the minimum standards of Trafficking Victims Protection Act. The law provides tools to combat trafficking in persons both worldwide and domestically.
According to experts, cases of human trafficking are rampant in Nepal because the victims either are cheated by traffickers or are ready to be trafficked on the pretext of lucrative jobs.
“Many people do not cross-verify before they accept brokers’ offer and get easily duped. Later, they are taken to some countries illegally and are left in the lurch,” Ganesh Gurung, a labour and migration expert, told the Post.
“Even when there have been so many human trafficking cases in the country where people are found confronting various problems, many people still choose to go to European countries illegally in the hope of good jobs,” said Gurung.