Punjab techie, who was held captive as slave in Myanmar, recounts horror
Akshay Sharma, a techie and native of Punjab, who went in search of a job in Dubai and landed in the net of Myanmar cybercriminals, was held captive as a slave for months and tortured for 10 days in a dark room. He escaped to India late August.
Akshay and his brother were the first two persons to escape to India after paying about 16,000 US dollars and they eventually helped in the rescue of 16 Indians, including 13 Tamils, held captive in the conflict zone of Myanmar.
Message to Kayen Force
The message that Akshay sent to the Kayen Border Guard Force, which led to the rescue of the 16 people held captive in Myanmar, was addressed to “Dear chief” and its excerpt is as follows:
“As we all know, we are the son of Buddha, and Mahatma Buddha is from India… I don’t know how much you can help but 16 Indian families (are) looking for your help (as) their children are stuck there and those Chinese (are) brutally beating them and torturing them every day. As I said earlier, being a follower of Buddha asking to another follower to help them out; every family will remember you in prayer every time when they bow down in front of god.”
Akshay talks about his experience after getting released. “I reached India on August 11…I slept for two days because I neither had proper food or sleep in the past two months. After two days, from visiting India’s Ministry of External Affairs to reaching out to the Indian army, I did all that I could do, but in vain. I also reached out to Myanmar’s Kayen Border Guard Force, who didn’t respond initially. Only after I sent this message, they assured me that our Indians would be safe and they kept their promise.”
Unlike the 16 Indians who went to Dubai with the help of agents in India, Akshay went on his own to Dubai in search of a job in the IT sector and managed to find one through a local online service provider there.
“In the telephonic interview they said that the opening in Dubai would get me only Rs 15,000 per month in Indian currency, but I would get a higher pay in Thailand. So I said yes, and that’s how I was taken to Thailand. It was only later that I realised that they had fooled me and took me to Myanmar via Thailand,” Akshay said.
Beginning of torture
Akshay, who landed in the net of cybercriminals in early July, was first among the recent recruits of Indians in the company located at Myawaddy region in Myanmar.
“I initially had no clue about the work. As I started to question them why I was in Myanmar instead of Thailand, they convinced me until the rest of the Indians arrived. Once they arrived, they started torturing me to work and scam people, which I was not comfortable with at all. Still, I worked for them even as I was exploring ways to escape from them,” he shared.
“As all our mobile phones and other devices were seized by them, after putting so much effort, I managed to reach an Indian Embassy person in Yangon of Myanmar. What came as a shock was that within hours of reaching the person, the company people came to know about it and they started torturing me,” said Akshay.
He also claimed that a person with the Indian Embassy in Yangon asked him to pay whatever the cybercriminals were demanding and free himself.
“I did not expect such a response from the Indian Embassy person. I realised that only I can help myself and nothing would work as even the Indian Embassy did not come for my help. That’s when I started to question them and denied working for them,” Akshay added.
Demand for money
However, what followed was brutal torture and the cyber criminals initially demanded 5000 US dollars for one person and later started to increase the amount. Eventually, Akshay and his brother managed to leave after paying 16,000 US dollars.
“Until they got the money, they handcuffed me and my brother and lodged us inside a darkroom, where nobody else would come. They would give me the mobile phone only to talk to my parents for money. Rest of the time I was in the dark room,” he said.
“When we were in the dark room, my brother and I were given only 5 spoons of food for the whole day for each person. It was not enough. So, one day I would have 10 spoons of food and the other day my brother would have 10 spoons of food. Leaving one hungry is the cruellest torture than physically assaulting one. That’s when I decided I would not leave a single Indian behind with these people,” shared Akshay.
After Akshay’s parents started to send money, the duo were treated well and were eventually released in Thailand.
“Only after reaching Mae Sot in Thailand, I got my passport and mobile phone. I did not use the mobile as they might have tracked my location. I did not wait there, I managed to reach the main road and took a taxi and reached Bangkok and left for India,” he said.
Messages to rescue the rest
Akshay, who returned to India on August 11, sent messages to various agencies and finally got help from the Kayen Border Guard Force, who rescued 16 Indians in the camp and left them in Mae Sot in Thailand.
“You won’t believe, after the cybercriminals came to know that something was not right, they started torturing the 16 Indians. At midnight of August 15, we just alerted the Kayen Border Guard Force that they were in danger and within 40 minutes, over 50 men with arms in 20 cars reached the company premises and rescued them,” shared Akshay.
The 16 Indians who were rescued by the guards also confirmed the same. All 16 were kept in a safe location for 15 days after which the Border Guard Force left them in Mae Sot in Thailand.