Families of 12 people from the state who had gone to work in Iran have alleged that they were kept confined by their employer. Officials at the Indian consulate in Iran spoke to the 12 labourers and assured their return.
The families alleged that the labourers were forced to survive in a single room with little food and water ever since their passports and visas were seized allegedly by their employer.
The families have sought the intervention of the state and central governments to bring their relatives back. With the help of an NGO called ‘National Anti-Trafficking Committee’, a letter has been sent to the offices of the prime minister, Union minister of external affairs, and the chief minister and home minister of West Bengal.
“We got information on Sunday that 12 people from West Bengal, between the age group 19-24, were illegally imprisoned in Iran. I also got their videos. We contacted all concerned authorities including the PMO to External Affairs Ministry. A K Singh of the Indian consulate office of Iran has already to the victims. They also managed to arrange food for the victims and have assured them that efforts are on to bring them back to the country,” said SK Jinnar Ali, national chairman of the National Anti-Trafficking Committee.
According to relatives, one Giasuddin Mallick took the 11 people, who were jewellery-makers, to Iran. Mallick had been working in Dubai in a jewellery showroom for 15 years. Last year, he met a sheikh in Iran who asked him to bring 10-11 labours from India and assured him that they will be given proper food and salary. Mallick took Rs 50,000 to Rs 60,000 from each of them and took them to Iran in February on a tourist visa, the relatives claimed.
“After the tourist visa expired, the employer asked them to submit their passport and visas to get a work visa. Later, he said the company was in loss and that they couldn’t employ them. When the 12 labourers wanted to come back to India, the company refused to give them their passport unless they pay them Rs 3.5 lakh citing some losses. They had no balance in their mobile phones to make a call. Somehow they sent us an audio message and we could connect to them through WhatsApp,” said Sk Salim, brother-in-law of Moinuddin, one of the 12 labourers.
“My brother-in-law had gone there with lots of dreams. They had promised him a monthly salary of Rs 50,000 but they only gave him half the salary and that too only for the first two months. For the past seven days, they were only giving breakfast. We are really worried about how they are surviving without any money and hope that the government will intervene to bring them back,” said Sk Samir, a relative of one of the labourers.