Enslaved and starved in Saudi, man on verge of suicide

Sep 06, 2012, 09:20 IST | Sandip Kolhatkar

City man made to work in inhuman conditions in Riyadh says he's on verge of suicide; 2 women escape with NGO help

Mirza Mukhtarbeg Dilawar-beg, a 38-year-old who went to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on a work visa three months ago through an agent in the city, has appealed to the Indian Government to rescue him from the clutches of his employer, saying he is forced to work long hours, kept without food for days on end and prevented from speaking to his family in the city.

Fed up with the inhuman conditions and constant torture, Mirza says he can not live in the hellish conditions any more and will commit suicide if he is not rescued in a few days.

Mirza is not the only one to have experienced the promise of a good job and salary turn into virtual slavery in the Gulf country, and NGOs say there are several people stranded in Riyadh and other cities in Saudi Arabia who live in similar conditions.

Two women, 57-year-old Nasreen and 33-year-old Yasmin (both names changed), who had gone to Riyadh with a dream to earn good money, say they were forced to work in inhuman conditions, kept without food and threatened with dire consequences by their respective employers if they tried to run away.

Yasmin and Nasreen managed to return home with the help of NGO Karam Aur Kartavya Organization.

Can’t take it anymore: Mirza Mukhtarbeg Dilawarbeg, a driver in Riyadh, wants to escape the torture he is facing from his employer; the nurse who managed to return home on Tuesday night. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Job agent from hell
Nasreen, who reached her home in Kondhwa on Tuesday night, said her, Yasmin and Mirza’s case was one of human trafficking. She approached the Kondhwa police station and complained against Abdul, the agent who sent her, Yasmin and Mirza to Riyadh.

She said after Abdul made a large sum of money by virtually selling them to their Saudi employees. She said Abdul turned a deaf ear to their problems after sending them abroad.
Speaking from Riyadh, Mirza said he had paid Rs 60,000 to Abdul, who told him he was a recruitment agent and promised him a good job in the Saudi Arabian capital.

Sold into slavery
Mirza said after Abdul sent him to Riyadh as a driver, he stopped taking his calls. “I feel like a slave who has been sold by Abdul to my employer in Riyadh, and if I am not rescued from the city within some days I will be forced to commit suicide,” Mirza said.

Karam Aur Kartavya Organization is now trying to help Mirza after his family approached it. The secretary of the NGO, Sher Mohammad Khan, and a few members have started communicating with the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia and are appealing to officials there to rescue Mirza.

Mirza said he was sent to Riyadh on a driver visa and promised a salary of 1,500 riyals per month with free food and accommodation. He said after landing in Riyadh, he was made to work for three more people while working with his designated employer.

“I have been made to work for long hours without food and sufficient rest or proper accommodation provided by the employer,” he said. “Sometimes my work extends till 3 am and the next day I have to report to duty at 9 am.”

Khan said Mirza had taken a loan to pay Abdul for the job, but now felt lost. He said Mirza had managed to speak about his condition to his wife and had talked about committing suicide.

“We are scared for him,” Khan said. “We could not ignore this important indication of his situation and so offered him full support, moral as well as action-based. We are arranging local support for him in Riyadh. We are encouraged by the fact that finally Mirza could gather himself and now he has blown lid off the entire racket.”

Tortured in Riyadh
Nasreen, a nurse who belongs to a very poor family, reached home on an Air India flight after a long struggle. “In January 2012, I got introduced to Abdul through a common acquaintance,” she said. “Abdul said he was a visa agent and claimed he was a generous person and so was offering me a job as a nurse for an old lady in Riyadh. He also promised good living.”

She said she was promised 800 Saudi riyals as well as food and accommodation, which made her take up the offer.
“As I was already in the nursing profession, Abdul induced me to take up the job of a nurse in Riyadh and promised a handsome salary of 800 riyal, plus food and accommodation,” she said. He also promised that I could come to India whenever I wished. I was lured by this offer and agreed to take up the job.”

She said she was made to surrender her passport to her employer when she went to Riyadh in January. “After I had my medical tests done, I signed an employment agreement and the employment visa was endorsed on my passport, and I left for Saudi Arabia on January 26 this year” she said. “On arrival in Riyadh at the employer’s place, I had to surrender my passport to my employer and by job was to look after an aged lady, who was my employer’s mother. At first I used to get food on time and was given proper accommodation, but within two months the lady passed way, and from then my ordeal started.”

She said that in the first month, she was paid 600 riyals as salary, which was less than the promised amount, and thereafter her employer did not pay her a single penny, forcing her to work long hours without food and medicine.

“I am old and used to get sick, but no medical consultation or medicines were provided by my employer,” she said. “I somehow called my husband and daughter and asked them to speak to Abdul, but he stopped taking our calls.”

She said that because of the inhuman working and living conditions, she decided to quit her job and asked her employer to send her back to India.

“He informed me that I had cost him over 30,000 riyals, which he had paid to Abdul and his accomplice in Mumbai, and so he could not allow her to leave,” she said. “After constant requests and pressure, he agreed to send me back, but refused to pay my salary for the last seven months. He got me a ticket for 680 riyals and I returned to India on Tuesday night.”
Nasreen now wants to save other people like her who have been working in Gulf countries in inhuman conditions.

“Abdul is the main culprit in all this and he is luring people by showing them big dreams, but actually he is cheating people and making a fortune out of it,” she said. “I request the police to conduct a detailed investigation and bust the scam by arresting him and his accomplice.”

Yasmin, the other victim who escaped Saudi Arabia after being sent there by Abdul, had an even scarier story to tell, saying she was forced into prostitution and was physically tortured, even subjected to cigarette burns on her body. She managed to come back with the help of her family.

Cops assure help
A police inspector of the Kondhwa police station assured Nasreen that Abdul would be caught soon and that he would escalate the matter to the Special Branch of the police.

“The Foreign Affairs Department of the Special Branch will escalate the issue to the Indian Embassy through the Indian External Affairs Ministry and Mirza and other victims will be released from the clutches of their employers,” the inspector said.  

Can’t complain to police in Saudi
Nasreen, one of the victims who managed to return from Saudi Arabia, said people like her were scared to approach the local police in Riyadh as any servant or housemaid who did so and complained about harassment was falsely accused of theft or other crimes and sent to jail.

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