VALENCIA (CBSLA.com) — A man held captive and forced to work up to 16 hours a day without pay as a cook at a local restaurant has been freed, and the suspect accused of holding him faces multiple charges.
The Tandoori Grill, located off Valencia Blvd. in Santa Clarita, remains closed after the owner, Pardeep Kumar, 47, was arrested for enslaving and beating the victim.
Police received an email from a man in Mumbai, India, claiming that his 55-year-old brother was being held against his will and was being forced to work as a cook at the restaurant.
Paul Mano, who owns a restaurant next door to the Tandoori Grill, says he’d caught sightings of the victim during his time there.
“He would sit outside, have some smokes, and sit quietly,” Mano said.
The victim tells investigators that Kumar forced him to work up to 16 hours a day, without pay, for three years.
“(He would arrive) early in the morning and would take off at eleven, eleven-thirty, or midnight, every single day,” Mano said.
Investigators say the victim came from India, along with his wife, to work as a chef. They say he was tortured by his boss, and was forced to live with him at his home, deprived of the right to communicate with the outside world.
“He was beaten at the restaurant with a two-foot piece of knife-sharpening steel, and was also beaten on a regular basis at the home of the suspect, with a metal mop handle,” Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Bureau Capt. Merrill Landenheim said.
The victim says he is relieved and thankful to authorities for rescuing him.
Mano, meanwhile, remains in disbelief over what he’s been told about what had been occurring in the business next door.
Charges against Kumar include human trafficking, torture, and assault with a deadly weapon.
Anyone with further information about the case is urged to contact the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s station.