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Tulsa human-trafficking case far from over

by Admin ECLink

Tulsa World

January 29, 2012
Tulsa human-trafficking case far from over

The train ride to Bombay took several hours, and then Jagdish Prajapati had to wait in a line that often stretched out the door, sometimes wrapped around the block.

Hundreds of men would apply for dozens of jobs, coming back week after week to try again.

It took months for Prajapati to get an interview, and then he had to pay two months' salary as an "application fee."

"That's what people are willing to do because they love their families and want a better life for their children," says Prajapati, who gave up an engineering job in India to become a welder in the United States.

"In India, even if you have a job, you don't have any money. I always dreamed of life in America."

Ten years after coming to Tulsa to work for the John Pickle Co., Prajapati is finally living the life he imagined, but only after "going through hell," as he describes it.

"I was asking myself, what have I done? Why did I come here?"

Prajapati became a key witness in the landmark "virtual slavery" trial, where more than 50 workers from India accused Pickle of trapping them inside the factory and forcing them to work for just dollars a day.

The company denied keeping the men against their will. But Prajapati described confronting an armed guard outside the workers' dormitory.

"He took the gun out of his pocket and showed it to me," Prajapati told the judge in March 2005. "It was very scary. I thought if somebody cannot leave without permission, then maybe he can shoot somebody."

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