Over 60 young men from Punjab are stuck in Melilla, an autonomous Spanish city in north Africa, while attempting to illegally enter Spain, representatives of a social organisation said on Sunday.
"Over 60 youths from Punjab are stranded on Melilla island. They are suffering there in the most inhuman conditions. In a fax message sent to us, these illegal migrants have explained about their miserable condition and appealed for immediate help," said Ramandeep Singh, general secretary of Lok Bhalai Party (LBP).
Singh alleged that immigration agents sent the young men in batches to Togo in western Africa or Ukraine about 5 to 7 years back, from where they were to go on to Spain or Italy.
"Before reaching Melilla, three youths Sukhwinder Singh, Buta Singh and Sonu Singh, from Punjab died of starvation in the Sahara dessert. One youth, who is a native of Patiala, committed suicide while two others have gone mad," he alleged.
Immigration agents had lured these youths with job offers in Italy and Spain and charged between Rs.500,000 to Rs.700,000 from each person, he alleged.
Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, a former MP and president of LBP, said: "Before reaching Melilla, these youths suffered countless difficulties while crossing international borders and travelling through sea. They were caught by the security agencies in Melilla and are kept in a camp there."
The LBP said it fights for various social causes, including the widespread problem of unscrupulous travel agents duping youths of millions of rupees on assurances of sending them abroad.
"I would take up the issue of the Punjabi immigrants stuck in the Spanish coastal city with the prime minister and minister of NRI affairs. I am going to Delhi Monday and would try to meet the minister for overseas Indian affairs and seek his intervention," Ramoowalia said.