28 Oct 2022 4:38 AM GMT
At least 15 Punjabi youths and 40 Indians are stranded in Muscat, Oman, after being duped by a travel agent. (Photo credit: YouTube)
At least 40 Indians, including 15 Punjabi youths are stranded in Muscat, Oman, after being duped by a travel agent, Bhaskar reported. A resident of Nihal Singh Wala shared a video with a leader of Aam Aadmi Party(AAP), where he showed several youths encapsulated in a room in the capital city of Oman.
In the video, the Punjabi man appealed for assistance from the Government of India and Bhagwant Mann government. He also said that the agents had confiscated their passports and would only return them once the money was received.
Several reports have surfaced in the past of fraud committed by agents, leaving several Indians stranded in gulf countries.
Earlier, in the month of September, Dr Surinder Pal Singh Oberoi, a philanthropist based in Dubai, claimed that over 400 Indian women, including 70 from Punjab, were trapped in the UAE and Oman after unscrupulous travel agents abandoned them to fend for themselves in a foreign land.
“I have tangible evidence to prove that of these 400 women, 80 have sought refuge in the Indian Embassy in Muscat. As many as 66 have found shelter in two different gurdwaras in the same city. Nearly 250 more such women are living in different cities of the UAE. The passports and other important documents have been taken away by travel agents,” said Oberoi.
He added that he had met with India’s Ambassador to Muscat, Amit Narang, a fortnight ago to discuss the repatriation modalities. He previously stated that he met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August and informed him of the women’s plight. He also mentioned meeting Union Minister Hardeep Puri. “Being an ex-IFS officer, Puri fully understands the trials and tribulations faced by the girls. He has assured me that he would take up the matter with the authorities in Oman and the UAE,” he said.
“Ambassador Narang has assured me of his full cooperation. He told me that by the time his officials get the documentation prepared of say 25 of them, 50 more penniless, physically abused and emotionally drained young girls would arrive at the Embassy seeking a safe haven,” said the construction magnate.
Oberoi claimed that groups of men dressed as legitimate travel agents are roaming the villages of Punjab and Haryana looking for gullible women. “They sell dreams to women. However, things are directly in contrast to what they promise. The girls are taken to the UAE on a 14 day visitor’s visa. The passports are forcibly taken away. Once the 14-day period is over, their stay becomes illegal and subsequently are either sold off to the rich or are forced to perform menial chores. They are made to work 18 hours a day on very little salary,” he added.
He said as a first step the immigration officials at Indian airports should not allow these girls to board flights. “The girls cannot speak English. Even Hindi is out of bounds for them. They have very little money with them when they depart for foreign shores. A vast majority of them do not even have proper clothes to wear. The immigration authorities should identify such girls at the airport itself and disallow them to board,” said the Dubai businessman.
Getting a UAE Visa is comparatively easier than getting one for visiting Oman. “Hence, these women first go to the UAE after which they travel by road to Muscat. Apart from these 400 girls, there are several hundred more who do not come forward to tell their poignant stories. They prefer to remain behind the curtains and hence their exact count is not known,” he added.
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