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Lured labourers trapped in Bhutan

Twelve labourers from the district, who were lured to Siliguri in Bengal with the promise of lucrative jobs a-month-and-a-half-ago, were taken to Bhutan and forced to work in the neighbouring country.

One of the labourers, Rajesh Mahato, managed to escape from the clutches of middlemen, who had recruited him, on the pretext that his wife was unwell. A resident of Rambari village under the jurisdiction of Srinagar police station, around 350km northeast of Patna, Mahato returned home on Saturday.

Nine of the 12 men who had been trapped like Mahato are from his village. The other three are from Upharail village nearby.

Family members of the trapped labourers and a member of the anti trafficking cell of the district, Vikram Kumar Singh, went to the Srinagar police station to lodge a case on Monday. “But the station house officer refused to register a case saying that forced labour does not fall under his jurisdiction,” said Singh.

The relatives then approached SP Kim Sharma who asked Banmankhi sub-divisional police officer and in-charge of Sadar subdivision, A.K. Pandey, to look into the matter.

Pandey said: “I have received an application from the relatives of labourers who are allegedly trapped at Kamakshi in Bhutan.

“Only after a probe can it be ascertained if these labourers are trapped. A case would be registered soon on the basis of this application and investigation will be carried out.”

A source said one Mohammad Salim, a resident of Srinagar, offered the jobs to the labourers and once they had been sent to Bhutan demanded Rs 6,000 from their kin to bring them back.