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  24 stuck in Kuwait due to ‘lax’ embassy

24 stuck in Kuwait due to ‘lax’ embassy

| NEHA L.M. TRIPATHI
Published : Oct 26, 2016, 5:29 pm IST
Updated : Oct 26, 2016, 5:29 pm IST

Twenty-four people who went to Kuwait to work as drivers and gardeners a year ago ended up working as domestic help for their employers there.

Twenty-four people who went to Kuwait to work as drivers and gardeners a year ago ended up working as domestic help for their employers there. They have now been stuck for more than four months in the Gulf country, since their sponsors have refused to part with their passports. They wish to return to India as they are not happy with their work profile and salaries, but are unable to do so. This is because the Indian embassy in Kuwait, they claim, has done nothing to help them and has made no effort to get the local police to complete their paperwork for their deportation back home.

Shaheen Sayyed, an Indian residing in Kuwait who happened to be in the embassy office for personal work, came across this group of people requesting help from the embassy. Mrs Sayyed said, “I have helped some people with a similar issue a couple of times before. But after listening to this group, when I started taking steps to address their problem, I was stopped and questioned by the officials attending to them.”

The Asian Age could not get in touch with the people as they weren’t allowed to use cell phones in the shelter home they have been put up in. According to what they told Mrs Sayyed, however, they have been trying to return to India for more than four months, but have been told that they wouldn’t be able to make the journey back home before a year or two.

When this paper spoke to a few of the family members of these people, they unanimously said that their relatives in Kuwait were unhappy about their job profile and payment, which is why they have been trying to return home for a while now.

Seema Yadav from Kanpur, the wife of Rajan Yadav, one of the 24 people stuck in Kuwait, said, “Rajan left for Kuwait from Mumbai on March 7 after spending Rs 1.25 lakh for his employment. He went there to work as a driver with fixed timings. But all he is doing now is washing cars, for which he is being paid `80. As per the last conversation I had with him, he is not in a good situation and is trying hard to come back here.”

Mrs Sayyed, who had taken a video of the 24 labourers talking to an embassy official, said that the embassy had summoned these people on Monday for further discussions.

An official explained that Kuwait has a ‘kefala’ system for migrant labourers. This system requires all unskilled labourers to have an in-country sponsor (usually their employer) who is responsible for their visa and legal status. This practice has often been criticised by human rights organisations as being exploitative.

Meanwhile, the Union external affairs ministry spokesperson, Vikas Swarup, said: “These 24 distressed workers are in the embassy shelter. We are trying our best to repatriate them to India. Due to local conditions and rules, it takes time to finalise repatriation. Seven of these 24 workers have been surrendered to police authorities for deportation over the past two days. Our embassy is trying to get the passports of four of these workers to arrange their repatriation.”