Distressed Young Migrant brought back from Abu Dhabi to India with ASK’s timely efforts
Vikas (name changed), 21 years old, a resident of district Siwan, Bihar excitedly boarded flight in December 2019 for Abu Dhabi with dreams to earn for the family back home in India and finally get rid of financial hardships. But his dreams were soon shattered when he reached Abu Dhabi. The reason behind his crushed dream was the agent who sent Vikas to Abu Dhabi for work on Tourist Visa, promised a salary of 1200 Dirham plus 200 for food and charged an amount of Rs. 70,000. The tourist visa that he went on was due to expire in the same month- December. A local agent came to pick him up from the airport and sent him to a room which was really small and already had 20 migrants. There were only 14 beds in the room. Vikas was without work fro 17 days and spent half of his money that he got from Siwan in Delhi, as he stayed there for two days before flying to Abu Dhabi. He was left only with Rs. 3500, which he was spending mostly as he was only given 1 Dirham (Rs. 18.5) per day for the whole day food.
After 17 days, the local agent got in touch of Vikas and linked him with a work opportunity as a labour at a company with the wage rate of 5 Dirham per hour, working for 10 hours in day. The local agent charged Vikas an amount of 2500 Dirham which he promised to pay him on instalment basis from his salary as he was desperate to earn and send promised money to his family. Whatever Vikas used to earn, a chunk of it went as the promised amount to the local agent who got him the job. Very little was left to send back home. During one entire year- Vikas was only able to send Rs. 20,000 back home. He also had to buy a smartphone of Rs. 10,000 so as to be in touch with family in India. Most of the time he was left with no money to even feed himself, thus frequently taking loan from the employer thus becoming a victim of debt bondage which is one of the indicators of forced labour conditions. Not only debt bondage, Vikas also became victim of physical abuse eventually. He started developing tonsillitis which was really painful leading Vikas to only survive on tea for 3 days. He could not eat anything because of the severe pain. He told the same to his employer but there was no concern from the employer’s end and Vikas suffered for 6 months of tonsils. He finally decided to go to doctor by himself and when he came back from the doctor, he was cruelly beaten by his employer.Vikas condition was worsening day by day and his family was now desperate to get him back to India.
Vikas’s mother met with ASK’s Panchayat facilitator Rahul, explained Vikas’s situation and their pain. The matter was brought to ASK’s Migration Resource Centre (MRC) in Siwan and his mother’s detail were passed to ASK’s Program Implementation Officer (PIO). On the very same day, PIO spoke to his mother and requested her if he can speak to Vikas. Vikas called PIO crying and requesting to help him get back India. The very next day PIO took this matter to Protector of Emigrant (POE) who assured to get Vikas back to India. POE spoke to the employer and Indian Embassy counterpart in Abu Dhabi and demanded Vikas’s return to India. Finally, due to ASK’s prompt efforts Vikas got back to his family on December 23rd 2020. As of now, he just wants to spend time with his family.
ASK is working with the source migrant communities in Bihar and UP who move to Gulf countries for blue collar jobs. We make them aware and empowered regarding the safe migration process so that they do not become victims of forced labour conditions at the destination. The project is in partnership with NORAD and Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS), which aims to reach 4000 migrants.