Breaking the Chains: the rescue of 35 Nepali workers in the Kashmir Region

In a recent rescue operation, 35 Nepalese laborers, including 5 minors, were rescued from a village in Srinagar, in the Kashmir Region. The laborers, from the marginalized Dalit and Mushahar communities in Nepal’s Madhesh province, were lured by traffickers with false promises of high and attractive salaries, only to be held captive in Kashmir and subjected to physical and mental abuses. 

The plight of these laborers surfaced after 3 months when two workers escaped and informed the Nepalese authorities. Despite explaining the exploitative and abusive working conditions in which they were trapped, the initial support and response from the local government was insufficient. The 2 laborers then turned to social worker Saroj Ray, who coordinated the rescue with the Embassy of Nepal in New Delhi and KIN India, GSIF Nepal, and Opportunity Village Nepal (OVN). Since 2022, GSIF Nepal and OVN have supported KIN India’s fact-finding missions and rescue and repatriation operations. OVN, GSIF Nepal’s local partner, also handles the immediate care, protection, and reintegration of rescued survivors. 

The team of KIN India, Saroj Ray and local law enforcement agencies successfully liberated the laborers in May 2024. The survivors recounted terrible experiences of physical torture and deprivation they had endured while held in captivity and confided they had lost hope of being reunited with their loved ones. Following the rescue, they were repatriated to Nepal with the help of KIN India, GSIF Nepal, and OVN and were warmly welcomed at the border by municipal officials. Addressing the program, Sr. Taskila Nicholas, Country Representative of GSIF Nepal, stressed the importance of sustainable rehabilitation support to the rescued and reintegrated laborers. She also emphasized the necessity to ensure and enhance access, of the laborers, to government schemes on employment and income-generation activities.  

GSIF Nepal will continue to collaborate with KIN India, Opportunity Village Nepal, and other stakeholders in the fight against human trafficking in and outside Nepal. Since 2019, GSIF Nepal is providing shelter and comprehensive reintegration services to hundreds of survivors annually through its cross-border anti-human trafficking project. The program has significantly developed synergies within Nepal and India, enabling the team to effectively and successfully responding the incidences of trafficking. 

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