Families of two labourers from Bengal who had gone to work in Malaysia have alleged that the men are stuck in the foreign country and their passports have been taken away by the organisations that had hired them.
The labourers have contacted their family members who along with a local NGO have sought the intervention of the state and the central governments. Twenty-three more are also feared trapped along with these two men, an NGO official said.
The labourers are from North 24 Parganas, Hooghly, Midnapore and Nadia districts.
Sk Jinnar Ali, chairman of the NGO, National Anti-Trafficking Committee, said, “We have written a letter to the Union ministry of external affairs and the state government on Thursday seeking help for the labourers. The men were sent on a tourist visa and are being made to work at a construction company. The family members have alleged that their passports have been taken away by a local agent. The men have also been allegedly told that if they try to return, they will be killed.”
“We could get details of two labourers out of the 25 feared trapped there. That is why we gave a detailed account of these two in the letter. We are being approached by other families and we are collecting details. The figure may cross 32. We will hold another press conference on Saturday. The entire group were taken there with tourist visas,” he added.
The Indian Express has copies of the letters sent to the central and the state governments.
Julfikar Ali Mondal, a resident of Madhupur under Bagda police station in North 24 Parganas, is one of the 25 labourers who was offered a job of a construction worker in Malaysia by a local agency. “We paid Rs 90,000 to the agent who had offered him the job and it included the flight tickets, visa and other paraphernalia. He had left for Malaysia on September 9. Recently he suffered a fall and broke his hand and leg. Despite that he is made to carry heavy rods, which was not part of his job description,” said Julfikar’s mother Jahanara Mondal over phone.
“My son wants to return but his passport has been taken away. We have now got in touch with members of National Anti-Trafficking Committee,” she added. She also said that Julfikar had sent voice messages where he sounded very scared and said that he had been confined in a room and given only one meal a day.
Sanjay Mullick, another labourer who has managed to contact his family here, alleged that he is employed with a casino though he was promised a job at a construction site.
“Mullick’s family members were told that he would work as a construction worker, but he is made to work as an attendant to male customers at a casino. Mullick has told this family that he runs errands and even massages their feet. His passport has also been taken away, ” said Jinnar.
When The Indian Express contacted one of the agents involved in sending the youths to Malaysia, he said that everything has been done legally. “They had gone on a contract. If they want to return early, a penalty needs to be paid and they will have to bear the cost of the return flight. It is being processed and they will return soon,” said Kabir Hussain, the agent.
Kabir, however, denied the allegations about the passport and said that the company must have taken it for necessary paperwork. In October, 12 goldsmiths from Bengal who were stranded in Iran returned following the intervention of the central government.