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'Please Get My Brother Back': Promised Job In Italy, 5 Indians Stranded in Libya

“My brother was in Dubai when he was told that he will first be taken to Tripoli in Libya, and then flown to Italy.”

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“My brother has been stranded in Libya since February. We have lost all contact with him and not heard from him for over 15 days now. My mother is very anxious,” 25-year-old Harpal Singh told The Quint on 26 October.  

His brother, Hari Singh, is among five men from Haryana who were promised a well-paying job in Italy by unscrupulous travel agents but now find themselves stranded in conflict-ridden Libya for nearly nine months.

The five men – Gurpreet Singh, 31; Hari Singh, 29; Vikas, 27; Kunal Rana, 21; and Anuj Kumar, 20 – belonging to Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh were flown from Delhi to Dubai in February this year.  

“He was in Dubai when Hari was told by a local agent there that he would first be taken to Tripoli in Libya, and then be flown to Italy,” Harpal claimed.

He alleged that once his brother landed in Tripoli, he was put up in a guest house for a week before he was completely abandoned by the travel agents and left to fend for himself. 

In a fix about how to bring his brother back, Harpal reached out Rajya Sabha MP Vikramjit Singh Sahney, who sent a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for their “immediate repatriation” to India.  

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But First, How Did the Men End Up in Libya? 

29-year-old Hari, a resident of Barara town in Ambala district of Haryana, is a veterinarian and worked at a local private clinic before he left the country. 

“Our neighbour’s relative, Gurjant Singh, is a travel agent. He reached out to Hari saying he’ll get him a well-paying job in the field of veterinary sciences in Italy. Hari agreed to it hoping for better prospects and standard of living,” Harpal alleged to The Quint.  

He said that Hari flew from Delhi to Dubai in February this year and that he met two of the four men in Dubai, and the other two in Tripoli. Though the men had flown at different times in February, they congregated at the guest house in Tripoli.  

However, after the local agents allegedly abandoned the five Indian men, they were asked to vacate the guest house too. Since India does not have a diplomatic mission in Libya, the men did not know where to go.  

“Then, the five of them decided to go to Benghazi, which is close to Libya’s border with Egypt. They were attempting to cross over to Egypt and get in touch with the Indian Embassy there. But they were stopped by the officials there,” Harpal stated.  

No end in sight, the men then started their journey back to Tripoli but were intercepted allegedly by the local mafia, who robbed them of their belongings, phones and passports.   

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Gave Rs 25 Lakh to Libyan Local to Bring Them Back, No Contact Since Then

Helpless, the men sought help from a Libyan local – Khalid – who allegedly promised to take the five men to the Indian Embassy in Tunisia at a cost of Rs 25 lakh.  

“The families collectively arranged the money and got it transferred to Khalid in August. But he kept on stalling us,” Harpal alleged.  

He added that since the last 15 days, none of the five men have contacted their families while Khalid’s number is unavailable.  

Worried sick about his brother, Harpal reached out to Rajya Sabha MP Vikramjit Singh Sahney, who on 20 October wrote to MEA requesting that the men be immediately rescued and repatriated.  

The letter, a copy of which was accessed by The Quint, stated that: 

“I would like to make a humble request to you to take this issue up with Libyan authorities immediately and rescue these vulnerable youth and repatriate them to India so that they can reunite with their respective families.” 

Harpal said that he got in touch with one of the 17 Indian men, who had returned to India in August, months after being stranded there.  

The Quint had earlier reported about the 17 men, belonging to Haryana and Punjab, who too were allegedly duped by unscrupulous travel agents on the pretext of getting them a job in Italy. They were first flown to Dubai, followed by a brief layover in Egypt, and then taken to Libya, where they were allegedly kidnapped by the local mafia and tortured. 

Harpal, who is a student of Computer Application at Haryana’s Maharishi Markandeshwar University (MMU), said that while the family has not lodged a complaint with the police, Gurjant Singh has allegedly absconded to the United Kingdom (UK). 

“We request the government of India to intervene. We have done everything that we could. Please help get my brother back,” Harpal pleaded.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:  Punjab    Haryana   Tunisia 

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