Dubai: Alex is at a loss. He doesn’t know how to bring his wife back from Oman, where she has been trapped after falling victim to an alleged immigration fraud gang.
Alex’s wife Glory is one among several Indian women allegedly conned by a Malayali visa agent, also a woman, at Ajman in the UAE. She was promised work as a domestic helper for a handsome salary.
Instead, she was reportedly cheated after being taken to the UAE, and then to Oman, where she was made to toil without adequate rest. Glory reportedly told her husband that she had to work from 6am to 11.30 pm without any break, for a meagre salary of Rs 18,000.
Alex, originally from Kattappana in Idukki, has been living with his family in a rented accommodation at Kizhakkambalam, Ernakulam, for the past seven years. Glory used to work in a footwear shop. She had to undergo a surgery for bleeding, and the family had to avail a loan of Rs 3 lakh for her treatment. They have a total liability of Rs 7 lakh, which has to be repaid on weekly and monthly basis.
The outbreak of COVID-19 affected the revenue of the footwear shop, and Glory’s salary and working hours were slashed. Alex, a mason, too, found it difficult to find work, especially on rainy days. Repayment of loan became a huge liability on the family.
It was then that they came to know through a friend of Glory that domestic helpers are in demand in the UAE. Later, a man, Dhanesh, employed with a travel agent at Pallimukku, contacted the family with a job offer in the UAE.
Glory left for Dubai from the international airport at Nedumbassery on January 19. Alex had by then enquired about his wife’s safety in the foreign country. Dhanesh allayed Alex’s fears and promised to intervene if Glory faced any issue in the UAE.
The man also told Alex that he, too, was a family man, and won’t cheat anyone. He said the agent in the UAE was well known to him.
Glory had prepared for the trip after she was promised a monthly salary of Rs 24,000. She was also promised a return ticket after three months if did not like the job. The visa and air ticket to Dubai was offered free of charge. On reaching Dubai, Glory was taken to the Malayali agent in Ajman. “My wife has been sold to her (the agent). They have made a huge sum. They are now demanding Rs 50,000 to send her back to Kerala. If I had that much money, I wouldn’t have sent her to the Gulf,” Alex said.
The man doesn’t know who would take up the responsibility for Glory’s present plight. “Who will take the responsibility if something happens to my wife? Will Dhanesh, who cheated her, own up? Or the Malayali woman in Ajman? Will the Indian authorities in Oman take up the responsibility,” Alex asked.
In Ajman, Glory underwent much mental torture for 55 days. As many as 20 women were accommodated in bunk beds in a single room. If one of them had fallen sick, others too would have contracted it.
“The Ajman agent had told the women that they should take care of themselves if they fall sick. I had spoken to Glory only five or six times ever since she had left Kochi. I spoke to her through the phones of other women in the room. I recharge their phones, and they let Glory speak to me. Hence, the conversations were brief. I get Rs 750 a day, and with the amount I cannot regularly recharge their phones,” Alex said.
Glory was sent to Oman saying it would be difficult to find a job in the UAE. In Oman, she has been working in a three-storey house with 16 members and their children.
“She wakes up at 6am and does all the household work, including cooking, laundry, doing the dishes and cleaning. There are no other servants. It is impossible for a single person to do all the work daily. Additionally, she has complained of bleeding again. She hasn’t received medical care yet,” Alex said, adding that she was being paid Rs 18,000 a month.
Alex contacted Dhanesh in Ernakulam, but the travel agent gave several excuses and washed his hands of. “We are poor. We don’t want anything else. All I request is to arrange for my wife’s return at the earliest,” the man said.
Alex expressed hope that social workers in the UAE and Oman would coordinate with Indian authorities there to rescue Glory.
Another Malayali, Elsie of Muvattupuzha, too, has allegedly been trapped by the agent in Ajman.