A 26-year-old from Jalandhar’s Mehmowal Yusafpur village was reunited with her family Monday almost a year after being forced into bonded labour in Oman. Parveen (26) was rescued by NGO Sarbat Da Bhala, which claims to have paid Rs 2.5 lakh to an Oman farmer to whom she was allegedly “sold” for the same amount after being promised a job in Dubai by a Jalandhar-based travel agent.
Parveen was received by his parents and activists of Sarbat Da Bhala at the Amritsar airport.
Talking to the media, Parveen said, “I was promised job of helper for the elderly in Dubai by a Jalandhar-based travel agent Sukhdev Singh. A Pakistani agent took me to Dubai in November 2017. I was then taken to Muscat in Oman by road and was left with a farming family….Later, I came to know that I was sold there in around Rs 2.50 lakh. It was a big family. The couple had nine daughters and six sons. They had all kind of animals and birds. I was asked to take care of family members as well as the animals. I would first cook for family and then feed to animals. They snatched my phone and I couldn’t talk to my family for three months. They would show me gun if I refused to follow their orders.” She added: “Somehow, I managed to convince them to allow me talk to my family and I conveyed my problem. Then Sarbat Da Bhala took responsibility to rescue me. And finally I am here.”
Praveen’s father Joginder Singh said, “I had made complaint against Sukhdev Singh and he was booked for human trafficking but now he’s out on bail.”
Activist Sukhjinder Singh said, “Founder of Sarbat Da Bhala S P Singh Oberoi was trying for long time to rescue her. But the Oman family was not ready to let her go as they treated her like their property. So we could get her back only after paying the ransom money to the family that they had paid to ‘buy’ her. Victim was not sexually exploited. Around Rs 2.50 lakh was paid to get her rescued. Large amount of the money was paid by Sarbat Da Bhala.”
“I have five children — four daughters and a son. Three daughters are married and one son is a school dropout. Parveen was my third child and she is unmarried. I had sent her to support my family. I am Dalit and labourer,” added Joginder Singh.