Courtesy : Gulf Today
Dubai - Jan 22: TWO Indian job-seekers who were promised jobs in Iraq, bypassing the ban on working there, found themselves on sticky wicket till the Indian Embassy got them flown back to their home country as their manpower agent cheated them.
But facing the loan sharks back home, from whom they borrowed huge sums to pay off the agents who promised them the jobs, at least one of them now threatens to commit suicide, said Dr Shashikala, a Dubai-based social worker who helped the men in distress get back home after their nine-month Gulf ordeal.
The story of Dharma Reddy and Bongu Malliah, who like majority of the migrant Indian labourers are from Andhra Pradesh, came to light when they contacted the medical practitioner. They poured their grief on being cheated by the manpower agent who promised them well-paying jobs in Iraq.
Although India does not allow its citizens to work in Iraq due to the security situation there, unscrupulous agents trick the system and illiterate job-seekers by flying recruits to Gulf cities like Dubai before dispatching them to Iraq.
"I just received a letter from the wife of Dharma Reddy who feared her man would commit suicide to escape the money lenders chasing him," Dr Shashikala told The Gulf Today in Dubai on Monday.
The men in distress had said before leaving Dubai recently that repeated attempts to get the money back from Sai Reddy failed since he stopped answering their calls. Before emplaning for Hyderabad, they told this newspaper that they had paid around Rs140,000 (Dhs13,200) each to an agent named Ravi back in Hyderabad.
Having landed in Dubai on visit visas around nine months ago, Reddy and Malliah eked out a living by doing odd jobs for the first visa period as the agent, Sai Reddy, also from Andhra Pradesh, always kept them on the leash of promise. According to the workers, he sent them to Kish Islands before the visas expired, and promised to get them back to Dubai on fresh visas.
They survived six months in Kish Island doing odd jobs to earn subsistence wages. And just when they thought their efforts paid off when Sai Reddy sent them fresh visas, they were detained by immigration authorities at Dubai International airport who found the visas were fake.
Penniless, they contacted Dr Shashikala who in turn mobilised the tickets through Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Now back in India and in quest of their money, the workers told The Gulf Today from India, that their agent named only as Ravi claimed he was in the clear since the money had been handed over to Sai Reddy who operates from Dubai.
Since almost all Asian workers pay their manpower agents huge sums to land jobs in the Gulf, it is common for these people who come from poor families to sell whatever little valuables, land, or go to the local money lender.
But many of these workers either get cheated by the agent, or land with unscrupulous employers who hold back their wages in gross violation of the labour laws.
"Though I am trying to do something through good Samaritans to bail such poor people out of trouble, I don't know how many I can help," said Dr Sashikala who sought the assistance of philanthropists to carry out her work.