KOCHI: Three women from Kerala, who were sold to Kuwaiti families by a human trafficking racket for a price of Rs 10 lakh each, were rescued and brought back to the state, thanks to timely intervention by a group of Malayalis in the Gulf country.
M K Gassali, a Dubai-based Kannur native who is the kingpin of the racket, allegedly demanded a ransom of Rs three lakh to release the women when their families approached him. Then the husband of one of the women approached the Malayali group and sent its members whatsapp videos and voice clips featuring the torture the trio were facing. The collective approached the Kuwaiti authorities forcing Gassali to release them.
Police said the racket had pasted notices at public spaces including in Kochi and Kollam inviting applications for the job of babysitters in Kuwait. The women approached the racket after seeing the posters and fell for the offer because the recruitment was free and no money was collected from them even for visa processing and air ticket. The husband of one of the victims said at the time of recruitment his wife was promised a monthly salary of Rs 60,000.
To bypass Indian regulations, the racket took the women to Sharjah on a visit visa and later shifted them to Kuwait by road, police said. In Kuwait, they were sold to rich Arab families for `10 lakh each. The victims realised, to their horror, a few days later that they were trapped. They were subjected to torture by their new ‘owners’. Thankfully, they had their phones with them, and hence they could contact their families back home and inform them about their fate.
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On receiving the messages, the husband of one of the victims lodged a complaint with the police and the Ministry of Home Affairs through a Kochi-based lawyer, Nishin George V B.He also approached the Malayali group in Kuwait who ensured the release of the three women. After returning home, his wife lodged another complaint with the Kochi police, who registered a case against Gassali and another person Ajumon A R, 35, of Pathanapuram in Kollam who acted as local recruiter for Gassali. In the complaint, the woman submitted that the racket members demanded Rs 3 lakh ransom and threatened to sell them to Islamic State camps in Syria if their families failed to pay the amount. While one woman hailed from Kollam, two were from Ernakulam.
“We have launched a detailed probe. Though Ajumon tried to secure an anticipatory bail from Ernakulam Sessions Court, the court on June 4 denied him bail following our strong objecttion,” said a police officer.
“As per the statement of the rescued persons, more women are trapped in Kuwait. There was a Hindi-speaking woman who was locked up along with them in a room. When the Malayali organisation intervened, she was shifted to another place by the racket. They don’t know what happened to her,” lawyer Nishin George said.