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‘Slaves now, fearful of being shot’; says Indian hostages in Myanmar

About 30 Keralites are among about 300 Indians being held hostage and forced to work as cybercriminals in a complex in Myanmar’s Myawaddy. They have sought the intervention of state and central governments to secure their release. The complex is called Shwe Kokko and is owned by Chinese businessman She Zhijiang, who was arrested last month.

One Keralite who was kidnapped spoke of a camp surrounded by high boundary walls and guards carrying sniper rifles. The use of their phones is severely restricted, and armed guards often examine them. Their passports have also been taken. Stun batons and tasers were used on those who refused to comply before more cruel techniques like hunger and solitary imprisonment were used.

Binoj, an IT professional from Hyderabad, fears he and others could be moved to other places. His family has been asked to pay up to $5,000 (over Rs 4 lakh) to allow him to leave Thailand. Binoj is in a heavily guarded jungle area in Mae Sot, on the Myanmar border.

After being ‘hired’ as data entry operators in Thailand between July and August, the Keralites were captured. After arriving in Bangkok, they were picked up at the airport and subsequently forced to cross the border illegally via the woods while being threatened with a rifle. ‘When we realised that the armed individuals travelling with us from the airport were not there to defend us’, Binoj remarked, ‘We knew we were being abducted’.



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