‘Duped & left to die’, Oman returnees vow to help others : The Tribune India

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‘Duped & left to die’, Oman returnees vow to help others

‘Duped & left to die’, Oman returnees vow to help others

A batch of eight women arrives from Oman, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Tribune photo: MuKESH AGGARWAL

Tribune News Service

Karam Prakash

New Delhi, May 24

When Amrit Kaur (name changed) of Ferozepur left Punjab for Dubai last month, she carried with her hopes of a golden future. But merely days later, she was struggling to survive, starving and living on water for days.

“I was promised a job in Dubai for Rs 30,000 a month, but was taken to Muscat and never given work. When I began asking questions, I was held captive. They would give me one meal a day at 5 pm. Soon even that stopped and I had to survive on water,” recalls Amrit Kaur, one of the eight trafficked women rescued from Oman by Rajya Sabha MP Vikramjit Sahney, who is running ‘Mission Hope’ to reunite Punjabi women stranded in Muscat with their families.

Modus operandi of agents

  • Recruitment agents are approached by sponsors for hiring domestic help. These agents contact their counterparts in India
  • This is when they start luring the women. The visa fee and airfare are taken care of by the ‘sponsors’
  • Women are misguided about the salary, nature of work and country. The women are exploited if they refuse to work

Amrit also recalls that a recruitment agent would often peep into her room to see if she was alive. “I told him I was not going to die. God is with me,” she says.

Seven other distraught women narrated similar stories of fraud and betrayal.

Every woman The Tribune team met at Delhi airport, where they arrived today, had one message for Punjab’s girls: “Never go abroad for work through illegal agents. It is not a life you want.”

Rajvir Kaur (name changed), another rescued woman, said she would launch an awareness campaign in her village to save others from meeting her fate.

The 35-year-old from Hoshiarpur who endured physical abuse during her stay as a housemaid in Muscat, had been promised a job at a parlour.

Leaving her three children behind, Rajvir reached Oman five months ago. “It was a distant relative who, in connivance with a recruitment agent in India, lured me but my dreams shattered just a week after I landed there,” she says.

All the women went through the same cycle of exploitation — they reached the Gulf on visitor or job visas and overstayed. They were were then unable to pay state penalties for the overstay.

If that were not enough, their sponsors (employers) demanded up to Rs 3 lakh to let them go. “This was the money my sponsor paid my agent, who practically sold me off,” says Baljeet (name changed), who fled to a shelter home and was lucky to return.

Another 22-year-old, from a labourer’s family in Bathinda, was duped of Rs 90,000 by a recruitment agent who promised her a job in a beauty parlour in Oman. “Instead, I was forced into domestic work without salary for the three months that I worked,” she says.

Sahney says the Punjab Police were seized of the matter and FIRs were expected to be filed soon. “The girls are stuck in Oman due to non-payment of dues against expiration of their visit visas or penalties towards the employment visas,” the MP says. “All of them were lured to Oman by unscrupulous agents on false pretexts of employment.”

Sahney, international president of World Punjabi Organisation, said, “After the details were brought to our notice, a team from my Parliament office visited Muscat and interacted with embassy officials and the girls stranded at shelter homes were helped. Discussions were held with sponsors for their release from unreasonable job contracts. Penalties were sorted. After bearing the cost of air travel, we ensured the homecoming of these girls.”

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.

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