PTC Web Desk: Three persons have been arrested by the Missouri Police in the United States for the alleged captivity and assault of a 20-year-old Indian student. The victim, who arrived in the US from India to pursue studies at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, is now under treatment for severe injuries, including multiple bone fractures and lacerations.
The student's identity has been withheld. He had been held captive for more than seven months by one of his cousins and two other men. Reportedly, he was deprived of access to basic amenities such as bathroom facilities, subjected to physical abuse, and forced to work working at three different residences, as stated by the police.
The incident was brought to the attention of the authorities by a person who became aware of the situation. Upon reaching the residence situated along a rural highway in St Charles County, the police arrested the accused—identified as Venkatesh R Sattaru (35), the main suspect and cousin of the Indian student, along with 23-year-old Sravan Varma Penumetcha and 27-year-old Nikhil Verma Penmatsa. They faced charges, including human trafficking, kidnapping, and assault.
Police investigations revealed that the student was taken to Sattaru's residence starting in April, where he was compelled to perform chores, work a full day at Sattaru's IT company, and complete a list of evening tasks. Shockingly, Sattaru allegedly instructed the other two defendants to physically assault the victim via livestream, escalating the violence if the victim did not scream loud enough.
The student reportedly described Sattaru as a wealthy and influential figure in India with connections in politics and law enforcement.
During his captivity spanning over seven months, the student was confined to a basement and forced to sleep on an unfinished floor without access to proper sanitation.
The police said the three homes where the student was kept were owned by Sattaru in Defiance, Dardenne Prairie, and O'Fallon. Investigators identified Sattaru as the mastermind residing in the O’Fallon residence with his family. He faced additional charges related to human trafficking and misuse of documentation contributing to human trafficking.
According to the victim's statement to the police, he believed the three individuals would sponsor him for his student visa, but they allegedly destroyed his passport. The student also mentioned being under constant surveillance, receiving minimal food, and sleeping for as little as three hours.
Additionally, the accused permitted the student to communicate with his mother back in India only in their presence and restricted any video calls.
In a press conference, the police said they were initially denied entry into the home. However, the student eventually emerged from the basement, visibly traumatised, covered in scars, and exhibiting bruising and swelling throughout his body, as outlined in the charges.