CHANDIGARH: Falling prey to an unscrupulous travel agent, a widow from Ropar ended up being “sold off” to a family in Kuwait. Even after coughing up Rs 3.5 lakh, Neelu, mother of two, didn’t get the promised job in a beauty parlour. Instead, she found herself mopping houses and cooking as a maid, having been sold by the agent for Rs 2 lakh.
But unlike scores of other unsuspecting unemployed who land up in Kuwait and Iraq, she was fortunate to get help from Punjabis settled there and managed to return home through Kuwait Welfare Society, a union of Indian workers.
“I read an advertisement by an agent about work visas in Singapore. An expert at makeup therapies, I got in touch with him and a deal was struck for Rs 3 lakh. In the meantime, he told me there is a much better offer from Kuwait and I’ll be able to earn more. So I agreed to pay Rs 50,000 more,” she recalled.
“When I got my documents, it mentioned ?housemaid’ as my job profile. When I protested, the agent made me speak to a lady, who claimed to run a beauty parlour and said it was only on paper that I was going as maid. She assured me that otherwise things were as planned,” said Neelu, who had lost her husband several years ago.
“On reaching there, a local agent took me to a family and sold me for Rs 2 lakh. I was kept in confinement of the house and asked to do household chores. They wouldn’t give me food and there was no medical help when I fell ill. Fortunately, their driver was an Indian and he helped me get in touch with Kuwait Welfare Society, who ensured my return,” she added.
Before Neelu returned last week, her family had filed a police case against the travel agent for duping her. “My statement was recorded recently by police. I hope some action will be taken so that more gullible girls don’t fall in the trap,” she said.
“A friend of mine was sent to Singapore on work visa but was forced to return in a matter of hours on the ground that she had tuberculosis. After coming back, she had all the medical tests done but found nothing. The government needs to tighten the noose around such travel agents,” said Neelu.
The move to bring unauthorized travel agents under Punjab Prevention of Human Smuggling Act is still hanging fire. Such agents in Punjab still cannot be prosecuted or proceeded against on allegations of violating the provisions of the Act or for not registering with the state government, sources said.
Beautician ends up as "housemaid" in Kuwait, manages to return