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Two Nepalis were arrested from the domestic departure terminal of the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Saturday along with four girls whom they were about to send allegedly to Lebanon via Lucknow, India.
A Lebanese national, Sevge Osta, was also arrested for his possible involvement in the trafficking of girls to Lebanon, where the Department of Labour has stopped issuing work permits.
The victims have been identified as Hem Kumari Moktan, 21, from Sarlahi, Sukmaya Tamang, 27, from Sindhupalchowk, Rita Magar, 23, from Sindhupalchowk and Krishna Neupane, 21, from Sindhupalchowk. The girls had no idea where they were heading for when the airport security staff stopped them on their way to Nepalgunj on a Buddha Air flight, police said.
The arrested duo—Bir Bahadur Bamjan and Sanu Tamang—had planned to take the girls to Lucknow via Nepalgunj and fly them to Beirut via Dubai.
Bamjan had travelled as a guardian of the girls in case police and Maiti Nepal staff at the border questioned their motive of travel to India.
“Since the Department of Labour has stopped issuing work permits for Lebanon, manpower agents have started to follow newer routes and modus-operandi,” said DIG Narayan Bastakoti at the TIA.
“Since the girls lacked documents, it was quite likely that they were duped and being taken to India to work as sex workers,” added Bastakoti.
Tamang had told the victims that they would get their documents including visas upon reaching Lucknow.
“Had we managed to cross the Nepal-India border, we could have easily taken them to Beirut with a three-month visa allowing them to work as housemaids,” said Tamang.
Tamang told the police that his manpower agency, Superstar Man Power, had known the girls via agents and Bamjan was the brother-in-law of Moktan, one of the four girls. However, immediate investigation found that Bamjan was an accomplice in the crime and no manpower agency with the said name existed.
Among the rescued girls, two are married with children and one—Krishna Neupane—is a divorced mother.
Moktan, the only unmarried girl, said they had no idea that their journey was illegal but were told that all their expenses would be covered by the agents.
Osta, the arrested Lebanese, was working as a middleman between Tamang and the agents in Beirut, said police.
“He has said that he is married to a Nepali girl and is a frequent visitor to Nepal. However, all the details he provided about himself are hazy. He seems to be the one who handles communication between the agents here and in Beirut,” said Bastakoti.
More than 100 workers without work permit have been returned by the police daily from the TIA entrance since the desk to check the documents of foreign employment seekers was established there on October 12.
On October 14, seven girls who were being trafficked to Dubai and Malaysia were stopped by the police along with three Nepalis involved in the crime including an official of the Nepal Airlines Corporation.