Travel agents: 12 Indian youths land in Armenia jail; 2 each from Punjab, Haryana

One each from Bengal, UP, Uttarakhand; 5 yet to be identified; vegetarians face food problem behind bars

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Travel agents: 12 Indian youths land in Armenia jail; 2 each from Punjab, Haryana
Chandigarh: Days after the video of dozen-odd Indian youths stranded in an Armenian jail surfaced, Rajya Sabha MP Balbir Singh Seechewal has reportedly got in touch with them and their families back home. They were reportedly crossing the Armenia-Georgia border illegally around February-March and were arrested by the Armenian police.

Seechewal had shared the video of these youths on his Facebook page a few days ago after their families began reaching out to him for help. Most of the youth are lodged in jail for the past three months or so and are undergoing trial there. In the video, they have said that they feared that they could be sentenced to three to six years of imprisonment and have sought help from the Indian government.

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So far, the identity of only seven of them has been known. They are Ram Pal from Khanna in Ludhiana, Rajot Singh from Patiala, Gurmeet Singh from Kaithal, Shivam Kumar from Karnal, Happy Singh from Pilibhit, Major Singh from Uttarakhand and Maniruzzama from West Bengal. The Indian Embassy officials also reached out to them and met them in jail. These youths had posted a video on social media that they had been misguided by travel agents and thus lodged in Armavir jail in Armenia.

The Rajya Sabha member said that when he saw the video on social media, he immediately contacted the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Embassy. He said that information had been received, through an e-mail, from the Ministry of External Affairs that the Counsellor of the Indian Embassy in Yerevan had visited the jail. He informed that currently 12 Indian youths were lodged in the jail, who were caught by the security forces there while trying to cross the Armenia-Georgia border illegally during February-March 2024. Seechewal said that their matter was being dealt in the court there.

Seechewal said that the Ministry of External Affairs had started efforts for the release of these youths. He appealed to the youth to be cautious of fake travel agents and not to risk their lives. He also said that these youths were facing problems of getting only non-veg food in jail, regarding which the Indian Embassy had written a letter to the Foreign Ministry of Armenia. He said that the ministry and the Indian Embassy are continuously pursuing this matter.

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