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Wednesday, Oct 16, 2019

Sold in Saudi Arabia, Jalandhar woman returns home to an emotional reunion

Sukhwant Kaur says her captors used to thrash her and lock her up in room

punjab Updated: May 31, 2017 21:55 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
Sukhwant Kaur being welcomed at Amritsar airport.
Sukhwant Kaur being welcomed at Amritsar airport.(Gurpreet Singh/HT)

The tears of joy said it all. Sukhwant Kaur, 55, arrived to an emotional reunion with her husband, Kulwant Singh, and daughter, Ranjeet Kaur, at the Amritsar airport on Wednesday, five months after she left for Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa only to be sold as a slave by a dubious travel agent.

Hindustan Times was the first to highlight Sukhwant’s plight. Her husband, Kulwant, appealed to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for help on Twitter.

Sukhwant arrived at Mumbai from Sharjah at 4.15am before she took a flight to Amritsar. “We are happy now that she is finally back,” said Kulwant. “She had gone for three months. For two months, things appeared normal. After that we learnt that the agent had sold her as a slave. Her captors were demanding money for her release. The agent also went missing. We appeal to the Punjab government to act against such fraudulent travel agents,” he said.

Sukhwant’s daughter said, “We had lost all hope of seeing her again in this life so you can imagine how grateful we are. I was not able to see my mother before she left for Saudi Arabia but now I’m glad I could welcome her back.”

She was received by former Jalandhar Central BJP MLA Manoranjan Kalia, former local bodies minister Anil Joshi and Amritsar mayor Bakshi Ram Arora. Later, the family left for its native Ajtani village in Nurmahal near Jalandhar.

A relieved but tired Sukhwant said: “I was only given some rice and meat and rice to eat. I felt like I was living in hell.”

“After reaching Hail city in Saudi Arabia, I was sold as a slave to a family of five members, including three women, who were teachers,” said Sukhwant, adding that she was made to do all household works and was beaten up almost every day. “The women members of the family also used to lock me up in a room,” said Sukhwant.

“I was admitted to a hospital a month ago after I contracted infection. There, I met a nurse from Kerala with whose help I contacted my husband on May 7. Some 10 days back, a man from the embassy came to visit me in the hospital and assured that I will soon be sent to India,” said Sukhwant.

She said a debt of Rs 2 lakh forced her to go abroad for work. With no financial support from children, Kulwant and Sukhwant have to fend for themselves. Kulwant works as a daily wage labourer and earns Rs 250 a day.

Capt thanks Swaraj for Sukhwant’s return

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh thanked external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for facilitating Sukhwant’s safe return from Saudi Arabia. He also promised a time-bound action plan by his government to prevent unscrupulous travel agents from duping innocent people. The CM also urged the external affairs minister to use all political and diplomatic channels to put an end to illegal practice of travel agents, who fraudulently send innocent people abroad, where they are victimised.

First Published: May 31, 2017 10:50 IST

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