The Indian embassy rescued and brought back Fara on February 25.

Hyd woman trafficked to Oman returned only to be replaced by another Indian slaveFara and her husband Shamsher
news Labour rights Friday, March 01, 2019 - 16:03

24-year-old Fara Naaz and her husband Shamsher were struggling to make a living in Hyderabad. Having seen hardships of poverty all their lives, when Fara got an opportunity to work abroad with a salary of Rs 25,000 per month, they thought it was a golden ticket. However, what happened there nothing short of a nightmare.

Fara became yet another woman cheated and sent to the gulf to work as a ‘modern day slave’ by notorious illegal agents, who exploit poverty and misery of their victims. And while she was able to return home on February 25 after Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) spokesperson Amjed Ullah Khan got involved, it came at a price.

"When we demanded Fara’s release, the employer asked for Rs 3 lakh in return, which is the amount she had been sold for. The family is too poor to pay the amount. So, the agents either had to pay Rs 3 lakh or replace Fara. And that’s what they did - they found another gullible woman who was made to take Fara’s place,” Amjed says.

The situation is so bleak that Fara’s rescue was possible because she was replaced by another ‘slave’. This is because police don’t crack down on fake travel agents despite several cases of human trafficking against them, Amjed says.

Even when some case gets highlighted due to media, they file a case of cheating under section 420 of the IPC, which is bailable, when they should actually be booked for human trafficking, a non-bailable offence, Amjed points out.

Due to the overwhelming number of cases of human trafficking particularly from Hyderabad, Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj had held a special meeting with former minister KT Rama Rao last year in January, asking the Telangana government to take stringent action against the fake agents. Subsequently, the minister said that the offenders would be arrested under Preventive Detention Act. However, Amjed claims that this has not been implemented so far.

“The fake travel agencies keep mushrooming in the Old city (Hyderabad), and police does nothing to prevent trafficking,” he alleges.

How Fara was cheated

In November last year, Fara had attended a wedding along with her family, where she met an agent, Shaheeda. She enquired about Fara’s financial situation, and made her the job offer. She allegedly promised her a house maid’s job in Oman for Rs 25,000 monthly salary and less than eight hours of work. She added that if Fara didn’t like the job, she could return after a month.

Fara left for Oman on December 9, 2018 on a visiting visa for three months. Within 10 days Fara realised that all the promises were lies. “The agent promised me that I would work in one house. However, I was taken to a company where the employer would send us to several houses to clean their floor, cook, take care of their kids and do other odd jobs,” she recalls. “They made me work for 18 hours. I would have died if I had to stay there for another two months.”

“I didn’t get any money for the two months I toiled there. My hard work didn’t yield anything, except worsening my health,” she adds.

Further, the company allegedly seized her passport upon her arrival and also her SIM card. However, Fara managed to sneak in her phone and would send voice notes to her family via an online voice calling app.

Learning about the deplorable conditions she was working under, Fara's mother Rasheeda and family demanded that the agent bring back Fara, but to no avail. Subsequently, Rasheeda approached MBT’s Amjed, who has been helping in rescuing victims duped by fake travel agents.

How she was rescued

According to Amjed it is difficult to rescue victims without photocopies of their passports – which Fara’s family did not have. “The families don’t take a copy of their passport which is very essential to approach the embassy authorities. The victims also don’t know where they are going; they just rely the agent. After going there their phones would be seized, preventing any communication. It is very difficult to bring them back. In such cases you have to identify the local agent,” Amjed says.

Fortunately, he managed get the police to arrest the agent Shaheeda.

“I made my house help call the agent saying that she wants to go abroad. Shaheeda came to the pre-decided location, there the police detained her. We pressured her to give the Fara’s passport photocopy,” Amjed says.

Using Fara’s passport photocopy, Amjed wrote to the Indian immigration authorities to locate her.

In the case of Fara, despite a complaint by the family members, the Kacheguda police are yet to file a FIR against the accused. “The police don’t file register any case against these fake agents. These agents have the backing of local politicians who exert pressure on the police, so none of the offenders get imprisoned,” he laments.

Even Shaheeda, who was caught by the police attempting to defraud yet another woman (Amjed’s house help), was released the same evening. “Police didn't register any FIR, despite my appeals twice,” Amjed says. 

 

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