Children seek Support to bring back Mother stranded in Gulf
Udupi: The Human Rights Protection forum Udupi is trying to bring back a woman named Jacintha who is stranded in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia from the last 10 months.
Briefing the press Dr Ravindranath Shanbhag on Wednesday, April 5, said that Jacintha a middle age lady from Karkala with three children in their teens and pursuing their education at different levels has been trapped for the last 10 months in the port city Yanbu in Saudi Arabia. Relentless efforts have been made by the Human Rights Protection Foundation Udupi with the help of numerous Indians working in the Gulf and the HPF to trace her which has raised hopes of her early return to India.
Jacintha was earnestly looking for some Job to educate here three children having lost her husband prematurely last year. A sub-agent in Mangaluru, named James gave her the information about the need for a house maid to look after the children of an Indian in Qatar. She was promised a salary of Rs 25000 per month. James won her trust by obtaining her passport and visa without her incurring any expenses. He sent her to Mumbai where from she flew by a Gulf Airline on 19th June 2016. She had the feeling of the sky above her collapsing on her head when she landed at an airport in Saudi Arabia and not Qatar.
Enquiries made by her with the driver of the vehicle which had come to pick her revealed that she had come to a place known as Yanbu in Saudi Arabia. She was not informed of even the name of her employer in Saudi.
When she was taken to her so called employer, she came to know that he had three wives and ten children. In their big bungalow, she was required to work for over 16 hours a day. In the process, her health deteriorated and her pleas of her inability to complete the work fell on deaf ears. She regretted to have come to that hell and begged them to send her back to India in view of her failing health. Nobody gave any heed to her appeals and she continued to work like a slave and suffer. It is reported that on two occasions she was physically assaulted by the employer and his family. She informed over the phone that once she even lost her consciousness on being hit on her head. After regaining consciousness she felt that some thumb impressions might have been obtained from her during the state of her unconsciousness, looking to the stamp pad ink on her thumb. She was perplexed as to why all this was happening.
Somehow in the first week of December, she was able to contact her children in India with the help of some of the Indian drivers there and was able to inform them of her sad plight. She gave enough hints during the brief conversations that she had been cheated and was completely at the mercy of her employer. The young inexperienced children had a shock of their life and rushed to all and sundry, who they thought might help them including an elected representative of their own community. Through that elected representative, they even contacted the Indian Embassy in Riyadh. In spite of the best efforts of the Secretary of the Indian Embassy in Riyadh, Jacintha could not be contacted over the telephone number she had provided to her children.
At last the embassy officials sought the details of her employer in Yanbu, his address and contact details, the passport and visa numbers and other details and at least the name and details of the Recruitment Agency which her sent her to Saudi Arabia. The poor children had none of those details.
On 30th December 2016, the unfortunate children somehow got information about HRPF Udupi and rushed to meet Dr R Shanbhogue and explained their mother’s sad plight with tears. They were advised to somehow locate the particulars and phone numbers of the Recruiting sub agent James and through him that of Shabha Khan the main recruiting Agent in Mumbai. At last, they succeeded in getting both the numbers from some diary/papers. However, much details about the name and registration of the recruitment Agency of Shabha Khan whether it was registered with the Ministry of External Affairs etc. could not be traced. HRPF immediately sent an email to T T George (Second Secretary) on December 2016 and Sushma Swaraj (External Affairs Minister)
With whatever information available, a police complaint was lodged with the Deputy Police Commissioner through the good offices of the District Commissioner’s office, Mangalore. Even though the Police caught hold of James no information whatsoever was forthcoming from him. At the end of January 2017, HRPF contacted the NRI Forum Bangalore and through them the Indian Embassy in Riyadh once again. This time, they could get the details of the Saudi Employer, his address and other details. When contacted, he asserted that he had obtained her services for working for two years in his bungalow for which he had already paid SAR 24,000 equivalent to Indian Rupees 5 lakhs to the Indian Agent, Shabha Khan. She can be sent back if only that sum is refunded to him, advised the employer. It is not known who had pocketed the huge sum paid by the Saudi employer, whether Khan or James but Jacintha in the meantime had to suffer. At this stage, even the NRI Forum Bangalore expressed their helplessness in the matter.
The Human Rights Protection Foundation had to literally run from pillar to post for a continuous period of three months to get in touch with her and to move near the present situation. In spite of passing on the collected information about the whereabouts of the lady in distress to various government officials in different departments, the police and some of the elected representatives, her repatriation has not been possible so far. As a last resort, HRPF has invoked the good offices of Sushma Swaraj Central Minister for External Affairs, in this urgent task. After initial hiccups, the Protector General of India, M C Luther and Consul General of Jeddah are presently in constant touch with her employer (Abdullah Almutairi) and also HRPF UDUPI.
Simultaneously, efforts are being made to trace the absconding Recruiting Agent from Mumbai by name, Shabha Khan, who is reported to have taken a sum of Rs 4 – 5 lakhs. The services of Sushma Swaraj the Minister of External Affairs were sought at this juncture. Within 24 hours of contacting her, her senior official contacted the HRPF and took all necessary particulars.
Jacintha was recruited through M/s Trio Tracks Travel Consultants, License No. B-0498/MUM/PER/1000+/91/2/8571/2009. The licence of Trio Tracks Consultants has been cancelled by the PGE Division, MEA, New Delhi. Those who were sent from Mangalore Not even knew to which country they were being sent. Though there are flights from Mangalore to Gulf countries, the victims were taken to Mumbai by train or by bus and were flow from Mumbai. Initially, Jacintha had only 90 days Visa. After reaching Saudi it was extended to 2 years.
The weblink to the External Affairs Ministry has shortlisted 1453 registered recruitment agencies out of which the license of 17 agencies has been cancelled. Though their license has been cancelled, but they are still operating and hiring the services of fake agents. Every month the list of illegal agents reported to the Government from the Overseas Workers Resources Centre (OWRC) are sent to the State Governments for launching investigation and prosecution. Cases referred to the State Govt (Illegal Agencies). In the year 2016 is 262, prosecution and sanction are 42. Through OWRC emigrant/likely emigrant workers can seek required guidance/assistance on issues of concerns/problem areas.
Finally, Ravindranath Shanbhag said that the results of the Ministry’s action are eagerly awaited and till then both Jacintha and her children cannot heave a sigh of relief but keep their fingers crossed. Let us hope for the best and wish them early relief, he added.
Jacintha’s Children’s were also present at the Press meet.