AMRITSAR (TIP): Most of the 40 Punjabi youths stuck in Iraq reached there allegedly through travel agents who with illegal recruitment syndicates operating from the Gulf countries trapped them using false promises of lucrative jobs for a hefty fee. Sources said unauthorized travel operators in various towns of Punjab are in touch with hiring agents of various construction companies in Iraq.
These agents lure youths by promising to get them jobs that offer monthly salaries in the range of $1000 to $1200 for which they are told to pay a fee of Rs 2-4 lakh to the travel agents. “There is hardly anyone willing to work in Iraq due to unrest so these agents send the boys to Dubai on tourist visas where they are ‘handled’ by the local agents,” a source said. These job-seeking youths are then made to stay in Dubai for a few days without any work. “When they get desperate to work and earn money, the agents tell them that due to some problems they couldn’t get the jobs in the promised companies in Dubai.
The hiring agents offer the hapless youngsters jobs in Iraq which are accepted by them. They are sent to Iraq from Dubai via Qatar and Kuwait,” a source said. “The youth from Punjab mostly travel illegally and without any documents, the agents also ensure crossing of borders to reach Iraq,” said Dubai-based businessmen S P S Oberoi who is the founder of NGO Sarbat Da Bhala Charitable Trust.
Sometimes these youths were illegally ‘transported’ to Iraq via the sea route as well, he added. Oberoi said the agents in India promise jobless youths they would be paid 1,200 dirham per month but they get even less than half of the promised salary in the construction companies in Iraq. He said his trust had opened offices in all districts of Punjab to save unemployed youth from falling into this trap.
“We ask such duped youths to give us their appointment letters or other documents given to them by the agents. Then our trust verifies the details so that the job aspirants are not cheated,” Oberoi said. He has offered to bear all expenses to bring the abducted Punjab youths back from Iraq.