After being stranded for a little under a week, five Indian youths including three brothers, who fell victims to fraudulent recruitment agents are finally returning home.
The youths from the states of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh were living in various mosques and roaming the streets without food and water for three days.
After the timely intervention of the Consulate-General of India and local social workers, the agents of these men were pressured to provide return airline tickets to the workers. They will take return flights to New Delhi late on Thursday night. Mohammed Milan Mundal (25), a West Bengal native, said it is disheartening to return home but believes it is for the best.
Agent makes false promises
The young men, who arrived in Dubai on visit visas on July 15, were promised jobs with a salary of Dh1,200 with accommodation facilities in two separate companies in Al Ain. The agents were located in Mumbai and New Delhi, India, with local representatives in the UAE who abandoned them.
Milan told Khaleej Times: “When we got to the company, we realised we are going to be given a salary of only Dh800, and food and accommodation costs need to be paid by us. No overtime was also offered. We make the same amount in India, then why should we work here.”
Local social workers stated there has been a rise in cases of fraud recruitment agents bringing workers to Dubai and abandoning them. Girish Pant, a member of the Indian consulate’s community welfare team, said travel agents in India must be discouraged from issuing visit visas to workers without background verification.
“In recent times, there has been a hike in such cases, and they come here and get completely stranded. The fraudsters target young people from really poor families who sell ancestral property or family gold to come to Dubai and work,” added Pant.
He has also been helping the five workers by connecting them with the Indian Association in Sharjah, which provided them with free accommodation and food for one night. Milan’s brothers Ashraful Mundal (29) and Sajjad Ali Mundal (21) came to Dubai after selling jewellery that belonged to his sister. “The gold was kept aside for our sisters’ wedding,” sighed Ashraful.
Workers’ struggle without help
“We paid a total of Dh12,824 (Rs2,40,000) for our visa, ticket, passport, medical and agent commission. When we got here, we were told to sign a contract that said our salary will be Dh800 and we will not be paid overtime. When we said we won’t sign it, we were asked to leave the accommodation,” said Sajjad. After leaving the camp, the men roamed the streets and lived in mosques and slept under buildings for three days.
The two men from Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh were also caught in a similar situation. Muntazir Mukhtar Hussain (23) had to shell out Rs90,000 for his travel to the UAE. “I was told I will get a salary of Dh1,200, and now my agent is not even checking on us. He said someone from the company would receive us at the airport. No one came, and based on some address he provided us, we somehow took a bus and got to the camp.”
Another employee referred the men to Pant, and he has been helping them since. “When I realised they are all facing the same problem, I clubbed them together and found a place for them to stay in Sharjah,” he said.
“There is no point in living here, we can go back and work in India instead,” said Milan.
Consulate takes action
Sumati Vasudev, acting Consul-General and Labour Attaché at the Indian mission in Dubai, said: “Once we were informed of the case, we contacted the agents and asked them to book their tickets back to India.” The tickets to New Delhi were issued on Thursday afternoon.
Bindu Suresh Chettur, a lawyer who provides legal counselling at the Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC), said cases of Indians being duped are on the rise, especially among people in the labour class. “Provisions of visas need to be more vigilant and the workers need to be clearly educated about the hazards of such trafficking,” she said. Both Chettur and Pant have recommended the establishment of shelters at the consulate for workers who get stranded with such cases.
“A small facility with a medical desk and a canteen are really required for workers who get stranded in this manner. Most times, they don’t have the means to pay for taxi fares or hotel facilities and they sleep in bus stops or mosques. A shelter could really help them,” Pant added.