Live video saves lives of 40 Indian workers in UAE

Dhanusha Gokulan /Dubai
Filed on September 25, 2018 | Last updated on September 25, 2018 at 10.47 pm
The workers were given food and accommodation in Karama, Dubai, for a few days.- Photo by Shihab
The workers were given food and accommodation in Karama, Dubai, for a few days.- Photo by Shihab

Some have been living without documents for two-three years.

A live social media video highlighting the plight of a large group of Indian workers has led to their eventual rescue and rehabilitation.

The video showed a group of 40 Indian workers, including three women, sleeping in public park benches in a northern emirate.

Majority of them arrived on a one-month visit visas and were unable to convert their residency status into a permanent one. Some have been living without documents for two-three years.

Most men are from the Southern states of Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana and few others are from Uttar Pradesh, and one is from Punjab.

Some were able to find menial part-time jobs that didn't pay, but have not been able to afford proper meals since August 1.

Their visas have been issued from Abu Dhabi (one), Al Ain (three) and the remaining visit visas from Sharjah and Dubai.

The Indian Consulate jumped into action after coming to know about the sad plight of the workers through the members of a local Indian association.

Speaking at the consulate premises senior diplomats at the Consulate General of India on Tuesday said the 40 workers, who were abandoned by recruitment agents, will be considered as amnesty seekers and will be repatriated to India.

Consul General of India Vipul, urged workers not to come to the UAE on short-term visit visas in search of jobs. He also asked the workers to submit names of their agents back home in India and in the UAE.

Vipul said: "The consulate will pay for their housing and food till they leave and will check with local authorities on their visa and residency status. For employees with company visas, we will urge their respective firms to help with the repatriation costs."

How the video happened

A community welfare group named Ekata found over 20 workers were sleeping on park benches. When they saw them begging for alms, a group member Sebastian Xavier posted a live video on Facebook.

Xavier said: "When I first met them, there were only two people, and they were begging for food and shelter. I posted their video on my Facebook, and the video got several thousand hits and views. More community members, moved by the plight of the workers in the video, came forward to help them."

The workers were given food and accommodation in Karama, Dubai, for a few days. "If you go to the park in the afternoons, you will find fewer workers because of the sweltering heat. In the evenings, you can find over 40 workers waiting there, as if seeking some kind of justice and help," added Binoy Baby, a sales professional and Ekata member.

"Eventually, more people began gathering at the park in the hope they would be rescued as well. The sad issue is that these men have spent several thousands," said Reghuvaran Koipuram, a social worker.

Workers share their ordeal

Khaleej Times caught up with the some of the abandoned workers, who were at the Consulate General of India, on Tuesday.

Santosh Kumar Kandu, a packaging professional from Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh said: "I came to the UAE on a one month visit visa. My flight landed in Dubai at 12:00am, and my agent asked me to spend the night at the airport and take a bus to Ajman next morning. When I went there, I realised I did not get the job I was promised. Over time, I had to leave Ajman because there was nothing for me to do. I paid INR 75,000 for the visa, and now, I have nothing to show for it."

Vera Venkata Satyanarayana from Andhra Pradesh said: "I've been here for three years. I got here for a one- month visit in 2016. I borrowed Rs40,000 to make it here, and my agent abandoned me. After working several odd jobs that don't pay, I was left with nothing. I've been sleeping in a park."


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