Colombo (Daily Mirror) - A group of young Pakistani females accompanied by their male manager, who had been brought into Sri Lanka by a local man claiming to be a filmmaker and had exploited them to work as belly dancers at a Colombo nightclub, was rescued by the Department of Immigration and Emigration yesterday.
The immigration department’s investigation division on information took six Pakistani females and a male whilst remaining in an apartment in Dehiwala. They had arrived in the country on September 18, the sources said.
The group had told the immigration officials that they had been brought into Sri Lanka from Karachi by a local man who claimed to be a filmmaker by promising them work in his latest film.
A senior immigration official told the Daily Mirror the person had arranged them air tickets and a one month business visa to come to Sri Lanka and had also promised a monthly salary of Rs.250,000.
The group had however not been given any work in a film but had ended up at a popular nightclub in Kollupitiya as belly dancers, where they had continued to work.
The immigration department investigation division commenced a probe when they learnt that a local businessman was exploiting seven Pakistani nationals by keeping their passports and employed them as dancers in a club.
When questioned the foreign women who were in the ages of 22 to 35 years had claimed that the local businessman had paid for their apartment in Dehiwala but had neither paid a single rupee for their work at the club nor provided them meals.
He had shown an agreement given by the local film maker without his signature promising six days of week work and training in a new film and a salary of Rs.250, 000 with accommodation and meals. When the first 30 days of their visa expired the local man had extended the business visa till December.
However, when the group had refused to work at a nightclub without a payment and three of them had decided to leave the country on Thursday early morning to Dubai with tickets arranged by their own money, the businessman had agreed to return their passports at the airport.
They had complained to the immigration officials when the man had not turned up with their passports as agreed at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA). The other four persons including the male had remained in SL as they did not have money for their departure tickets.
When the group was taken into immigration custody the businessman had also visited the office and claimed that the foreigners had violated their business agreement. He had told the officials that they did not train well for the film and as a result they were put into a nightclub to learn to dance.
According to immigration officials the Pakistani women and the man had barely made their meal requirements only from the tips they received at the nightclub. The immigration authorities on the instructions of Controller General Harsha Ilukpitiya handed the seven foreigners to the CID’s Human Trafficking, Smuggling Investigations and Maritime Security Investigation Division (HTSIMSID) as their case fell into human trafficking.
A statement was recorded from the businessman who claimed himself to be a filmmaker. The CID HTSIMSID is conducting further investigations.
The Pakistani male who had acted as the manager of the group is married to one of the six girls and had claimed that they were professional dancers and work in the film industry. They had visited Sri Lanka with the hope of engaging in the film industry but had been deceived by an imposter, who had fixed them at a nightclub.