Thirty five people from Punjab are held captive for past more than six years in Mauritania a country in East of African Continent. People are kept hostage by immigration mafia there in want of money allegedly from a travel agent in India. The people were to reach Spain.
Family members of these persons from different parts of Punjab who had gathered here on Wednesday to raise the issue said that they had lost all contacts with their wards until a journalist named Harpal Singh Khanpuri reported this in a newspaper of Spain that these Indian people are captive in Mauritania.
Joginder Kaur mother of Gurpreet Singh from Nangal Labhana village in Kapurthala district, who is one of the hostages, said that two travel agents in Kapurthala took about Rs. Seven lakhs for sending her son to Spain and told that money was to be paid to a travel agent in Chandigarh who would ultimately send Gurpreet Singh to Spain.
"Gurpreet left home for Spain in November 2004 and we received his phone call after three days conveying that he along with other thirty seven people have been brought to Mali in Africa. After that we lost contact with him," she said.
She blamed that two travel agents from Jalandhar and one from Chandigarh duped the youths inspiring to go on foreign land for their green pastures. As per family members two of these 37 people have already died.
President of Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) and former union minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia who was accompanying the families told that he has talked to journalist who brought this to light and he has told me that 35 Indians are living a pathetic life in Mauritania.
Demanding immediate action against the travel agents involved in this case he assured of raising the issue with ministry of overseas affairs.
Giving an ultimatum of fifteen days for taking right steps in bringing back these people Ramoowalia said that he will visit the country himself if nothing comes out positive.
When contacted over phone, Harpal Singh Khanpuri said that he has reported the matter in a local newspaper of Spain after getting information from another Indian in this regard.