Indian police have rescued 183 Nepali men and women in a major operation near the border with Myanmar, after Maiti Nepal raised suspicions following a tip-off that they were being trafficked into forced labour.

The majority of those being trafficked had travelled into India by road, whilst some had been flown into India via airports across Nepal. The sophisticated planning would then see traffickers transport them illegally via road into Myanmar, from where it is easier to move them into Southeast Asian countries or the Middle East, without going through Indian airports, where checks have intensified.
Police in the north-east Indian state of Manipur said they had arrested four Nepalis in the main city of Imphal and charged them with human trafficking. Other arrests had been made elsewhere, whilst it remains unknown how many people the traffickers had already moved into Myanmar.

The rescued men and women said they had been promised work permits and new passports and in some cases, the agents, acting on behalf of the traffickers, had kept their original documents. 

Bishwo Khadka, President of Maiti Nepal, who received the tip-off, said this was a clear case of labour exploitation. “These people are never provided what they have been promised. But they receive such a compelling proposition from traffickers, that even when we attempt to rescue them, they do not want to be rescued as they believe so strongly in what they’ve been told” he said.

“We receive calls for help from hundreds of call from girls working in the Middle East because they are confined and are not paid what they were promised,” Khadka added.

Khadka was to fly to India on Tuesday to help repatriate the rescued Nepalis.

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