HYDERABAD, March 8: Twenty-three victims of human trafficking, including women and children, arrived at the FIA’s office here on Saturday after serving for a year as unpaid labourers on the agricultural land in Iran’s Zarabad area.
“I am now a free man and it’s my country. I did a blunder by falling prey to greed,” Hashim, a resident of Hala, said with tears in his eyes.
The villagers, Hashim, Hajan, Gul Hassan, Daim, Ahmed, Anwar, Asghar, Achar, Laung, Punhoo, Haji, Achar (adults), Dilbar, Deedar, Zakir, Sabir, Sher Bano (children) and Gul Pani, wife of Daim; Solini, Zulekha, Moomal, Amir Bano and Zamir Bano, had been kept as slaves by an Iranian landlord.
According to FIA deputy director (Hyderabad) Bashir Bhutto, no case would be lodged against the villagers because they were victims of human trafficking. “It was due to our pressure which led to the release of the captives by the Iranian landlord,” he said.
FIA officials have registered a case against four traffickers–Umar Makrani, an Iranian national, his agent Saeed Makrani, Ameer Bux Sand and Ghulam Qadir– under the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Ordinance, 2002. Two of the traffickers are in the FIA custody.
“We were taken to Iran by Umer Makrani’s agents, who assured us that we would get paid in Iran and would not have to bear travel expenses,” Hashim told Dawn.
However, he said, when they reached Iran, they were not paid any wages for their work on the landlord’s banana orchard and only food was provided to them. He added that most of their belongings were lost during flash floods in Iran. “The landlord used to threaten us against venturing out of his agricultural land, warning that the Iranian police might arrest them as illegal immigrants,” he said.
They said that 13 of their companions, including women and children, had not been allowed to return.
The FIA received the group of 23 people from the Iran-Pakistan border at Kalatoo in Balochistan and sent them to Hyderabad.
FIA assistant director Hameed Bhutto said: “The victims told us that Umer Makrani said he was releasing them because his agents had been arrested by FIA authorities”. Mr Bhutto said: “We will adopt the same method for securing the release of the remaining 13 people.”