Duped by travel agents, 2 Punjab youths among 12 Indians stranded in Armenian jail - Hindustan Times
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Duped by travel agents, 2 Punjab youths among 12 Indians stranded in Armenian jail

By, Jalandhar
Jun 19, 2024 05:02 AM IST

They were caught while crossing the Armenia-Georgia border illegally in March and were arrested by the Armenian border police force. The matter came to light after the families of the victims approached Rajya Sabha member Balbir Singh Seechewal to take up the matter of their release with the Indian Embassy.

Duped by travel agents, 12 Indian youth, including two each from Punjab and Haryana, have been stranded in an Armenian jail for the past over three months.

Duped by travel agents, 12 Indian youth, including two each from Punjab and Haryana, have been stranded in an Armenian jail for the past over three months. (Representational image)
Duped by travel agents, 12 Indian youth, including two each from Punjab and Haryana, have been stranded in an Armenian jail for the past over three months. (Representational image)

They were caught while crossing the Armenia-Georgia border illegally in March and were arrested by the Armenian border police force. The matter came to light after the families of the victims approached Rajya Sabha member Balbir Singh Seechewal to take up the matter of their release with the Indian Embassy.

The victims, who had no contact with their families back in India, somehow managed to send video message to their family members and informed them about their arrest.

So far, only seven of the victims have been identified. They are Ram Pal from Panjgrain village in Ludhiana, Ranjot Singh of Seesan village in Patiala, Gurmeet Singh and Shivam Kumar from Haryana, Major Singh from Udham Singh Nagar in Uttarakhand, Happy Singh from Pilibhit and Maniruzzama from West Bengal.

Gurjant Singh, Ranjot’s brother, said a Samana-based travel agent took 7 lakh from his brother on the pretext of sending him to Romania on a work permit, but his brother was taken to Armenia where the local agent directed him to cross the Georgia border illegally to reach Romania.

“My brother was caught while crossing the Georgia border in March and has been put behind bars since then. The travel agent had refused to offer any help and had stopped responding to calls,” he said.

He claimed that even a Moga-based legal consultant, Paramjit Singh, duped him of 1.80 lakh on the pretext of providing legal assistance to the family.

Likewise, victim Ram Pal’s brother Roshan Lal said his brother was promised a visa to Italy, but a Haryana-based travel agent asked his brother to first visit Armenia and then cross Georgia border to reach Italy via Romania illegally.

“We had paid 7 lakh to the travel agent for an Italian work permit, but my brother was lodged in an Armavir Jail of Armenia for the past three months. We want the Indian government to initiate action against illegal travel agents for duping gullible youth of lakhs of rupees,” he said.

Meanwhile, Seechewal said he has already contacted the ministry of external affairs and the Indian embassy.

“In an information received from the ministry of external affairs through an email, the counsellor of the Indian embassy in Yerevan had visited the jail. The ministry informed that currently 12 Indian youths were lodged in the jail, who were caught by the security forces while crossing Armenia-Georgia border illegally,” he said. Seechewal said that the ministry of external affairs had started efforts for the release of these youths.

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