Udupi: Jacintha from Mudarangadi, who was entrapped in a human trafficking web of Mumbai and sent as a slave to Yanbu of Saudi Arabia, has now returned after 14 months of slavery. Human Rights Protection Foundation of Udupi contacted Roshan Rodrigues, the head of the NRI Forum in Saudi in April 2017, and with the help of his team, Jacintha has now reunited with her family.
Speaking with media persons at Dr. A V Baliga Memorial Hospital at Doddanagudde near here on September 23, Jacintha said that when her husband passed away last year, she became the sole bread winner of the family. In order to take care of her three children and to provide them education, she was in search of employment. She happened to find an ad in the local newspaper wherein an Indian family in Qatar needed a home nurse. She contacted the Mumbai based Recruitment Agency headed by one Shabaz Khan, who assured her that she would be paid Rs 25,000 per month. He further assured her that he would arrange the passport and visa required, through his representative in Mangalore. With these assurances, Jacintha made her journey to Mumbai and she was placed in a house somewhere in Dongri for a few days.
She was then taken to Dubai via Goa and Delhi on 10 June 2016 along with two other ladies. Thereafter, she lost track as to where she was being taken to. To her horror, only on landing in the airport did she discover that she had been taken to Yanbu, Saudi Arabia instead of Qatar.
Jacintha’s experience through hell
Jacintha was made to work day in and day out in the three mansions belonging to the employer’s mother, three wives and their dozens of children. She was made to do all the odd jobs apart from the household chores and was only allowed to eat the leftover food, if any! Her toil of over 16 hours per day and starvation took a severe toll on her health. The employer showed no mercy when she pleaded with him that she was ill and could not work. “Under no circumstances will I send you back to India before your contract ends”, the employer thundered. She was oblivious of any contract made and the terms and conditions of the contract.
Jacintha attempted to flee from the house and return to India on 28 November 2016. A neighbour, on the pretext of directing her to the Indian Embassy, took her to the police station. The police in turn made enquiries and took her back to the same employer. That night, the men of the house beat her black and blue and slammed her head to the wall until she lost consciousness.
HRPF steps in
With the help of an Indian driver, Jacintha managed to contact her children. A priest directed the children to approach Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi for help. They had no details of Jacintha’s whereabouts or any contact details. The only option was to locate the main agent who had sent her to Saudi Arabia. The children found the newspaper ad wherein the contact numbers and address of Shabaz Khan, the main Agent in Mumbai was given. “On tracing the travel dates of Jacintha we found that she had travelled to Saudi with a ‘Visiting visa’ of 90 days. The visa was arranged by one TRIO TRACKS TRAVELS CONSULTANTS, an agency in Delhi. Web search revealed that the agency was blacklisted by the Ministry of External Affairs, and this led us to further suspicions that it could be a case of human trafficking”, said Human Rights Protection Foundation President Ravindranath Shanbhagh.
Where did the money go?
“By this time we had managed to find the details of the employer (Abdul Almuttairi). On contacting him, he said, “Jacintha has made a contract to work for us for two years. I have paid the Indian Agent 24,000/- Saudi Riyals (About Rs 5,00,000/-). I will send her back if this money is returned to me.
Jacintha’s family had not received any money. We decided to give a police complaint to find out who had laundered the money”, said Human Rights Protection Foundation President Ravindranath Shanbhagh.
Incompetent police investigation
“HRPF wrote a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mangalore requesting him to investigate into the matter. We hoped that the agent of Mumbai would be nabbed with the help of a representative of Mangalore named James. In spite of enquiring with James no steps were taken to reach the agent in Mumbai.
When even four months after lodging the complaint, there was no progress in investigating the Mumbai Agent Shabaz Khan, we brought the matter to the notice of the Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj through a letter and Twitter.
The Under Secretary of MEA, Virender Sharma responded within two weeks by directing the Home Secretary as well as the Director General of Police, Maharashtra to further the investigation. Even then there was no development”, said Human Rights Protection Foundation President Ravindranath Shanbhagh.
Call out to the Gulf Kannadigas
“When the government machinery had failed to function we called out to the Kannadigas of the Gulf to come to our aid. The founder of NRI Forum, B K Shetty and the current President of the NRI forum Roshan Rodrigues immediately responded by contacting the Foundation. They found the entire information regarding the case and negotiated with Jacintha’s employer to reduce the amount demanded by him. With the combined efforts of these Samaritans, Jacintha successfully reached Jeddah on 16 September 2017”, said Human Rights Protection Foundation President Ravindranath Shanbhagh.
In spite of being released by the employer, Jacintha could not return to India since she did not have the Work permit. Since her employer had bought her through the human trafficking network she was employed without a work permit!
There was every possibility of Jacintha’s arrest and imprisonment. Roshan and his team worked together to contact the Labour Department officials in order to obtain the work permit.
Though Jacintha had been taken to Saudi Arabia bypassing the legal road, she returned to India on 22 September 2017 through righteous and lawful measures.
Jacintha’s children Valitha and Vinitha were present during the press meet.