12 Indian youths stuck in Armenian prison after being duped by travel agents

The Ministry of External Affairs had started efforts for the release of these youths.
Image used for representational purposes
Image used for representational purposes(File photo)

CHANDIGARH: A dozen youths from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal are stranded in an Armenian prison for the last three months after falling prey to travel agents promising greener pastures in Europe. They were crossing the Armenia-Georgia border illegally when they were arrested by the Armenian police. Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament Balbir Singh Seechewal has got in touch with their families back home and the Indian Embassy has also reached out to them.

Seechewal shared a video of the youths stranded in the jail on his Facebook page a few days ago after their families began reaching out to him for help. In the video, they said they feared that they could be sentenced to three to six years of imprisonment and sought help from the Indian government.

Seechewal said that the Ministry of External Affairs had started efforts for the release of these youths. "After I saw their video on social media, I immediately contacted the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassy. I was informed by the Ministry of External Affairs that the Counsellor of the Indian Embassy in Yerevan had visited the jail. While seven were caught together, the others were apprehended separately from different places," he said.

"The seven who went together had paid Laddi Gill, a travel agent in Armenia hailing from Haryana, Rs 9 lakh to get to Italy but are now stuck in Armenia. They are Ram Pal from Khanna, Rajot Singh from Patiala, Gurmeet Singh from Kaithal, Shivam Kumar from Karnal, Happy Singh from Pilibhit, Major Singh from Uttarakhand and Maniruzzama from West Bengal," he said.

Seechewal said the matter was being dealt with legally there and only after they are released by the court can they come back. "They had said that they were not been treated properly and not getting proper food to eat so I request the authorities to look into it and do the needful. Their families are worried about their safety."

He said the youths were getting only non-vegetarian food in jail, regarding which the Indian Embassy had written a letter to the Foreign Ministry of Armenia. He added that the ministry and the Indian Embassy are continuously pursuing the matter.

Seechewal further requested parents not to send their children abroad by illegal means.

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The New Indian Express