Eight youths of Gurdaspur district who had migrated to Malaysia in search of greener pastures have approached the Indian high commission after “escaping” from a private food packaging company, where they were allegedly being made to work as “slaves”.
The youths, aged between 22 and 25 years, had gone to Malaysia on March 22 this year after paying Rs 1.7 lakh each to agents operating in the district on the promise of a well-paying and comfortable job.
In the letter to the Indian high commissioner (a copy of which is available with HT), Davinder Singh, who hails from Gausal village in Gurdaspur district, stated that he and seven other persons -- Rohit Kumar, Sahil Sharma, Vinod Kumar, Kulbir Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Surinder Pal Singh and Anil Kumar -- were promised a monthly salary of 1,300 Malaysian Ringgit (Rs 21,000) besides other allowances for working 48 hours a week in the Malaysian firm Maxco Food Industries.
On reaching Malaysia, the youths were allegedly asked to clean toilets instead of the promised job and forced to work for nearly 20 hours. On resisting, the firm manager got them thrashed and called a policeman, who threatened to put them behind bars, Davinder Singh wrote in the letter. “Unable to bear the torture, we ran from the factory after three weeks and took shelter in a gurdwara,” he said.
Talking to Hindustan Times on phone, gurdwara head Paramjeet Singh, who hails from Batala and has been living in Malaysia for the past 10 years, said the private firm had confiscated the youths’ passports, due to which the gurdwara was unable to arrange for their travel.
He said they had sent the letter to the Indian high commissioner on April 16.
“After failing to get a response, we contacted a Gurdaspur-based leader, who further approached the external affairs ministry, but to no avail,” said Paramjeet Singh.