NGO to rescue of Punjabi youth stranded in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia

By Alkesh Sharma, IANS
Sunday, December 12, 2010

JALANDHAR - They had gone to foreign shores, hoping to turn around their fortunes. But their dreams soon turned sour as the 50 youths from Punjab were forced to live in miserable conditions and do shoddy jobs in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

A Punjab-based NGO, Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), working for the rights of Indians stranded abroad, has come to the rescue of the youths who have been stuck in the two Gulf countries for the last few months.

According to LBP officials, 17 youths have been stranded in Bahrain for the last one month while over 30 have been in Saudi Arabia for three months.

The NGO brought five youths back from Bahrain and united them with their families in Punjab Friday.

“The Punjabi youths who were stuck in Bahrain contacted us around two weeks back through a fax message. We took up the case with the Protector of Emigrants (POE) in Chandigarh and also put pressure on the travel agent to bring them back,” LBP senior vice-president Avtar Singh Mullanpuri told IANS.

“Following this, the Bahrain-based company returned the passports of the five youths and sent them back to India. They have assured us of sending the remaining 12 youths in three batches of five, five and two,” he said.

Mullanpuri said 30 other Punjabi youths were still stranded in Saudi Arabia.

“They are being forced to work as labourers at very meagre wages in Saudi Arabia. We have taken up the matter with the union ministry of external affairs and are trying to contact the Indian embassy there to rescue them,” he said.

The youths who have returned from Bahrain said they were cheated by the travel agent, who had made fake job agreement documents.

“We are skilled workers and have earlier worked in Dubai and other Gulf countries. According to the written agreement, the agent promised similar jobs at very lucrative salaries. But it was mere eyewash,” Jaswinder Singh, resident of Mallari village here, who returned from Bahrain, told IANS.

“On reaching there, we were told to work as labourers on very heavy machines. The factory owner also confiscated our passports and was giving us a salary of only 30 to 40 dinars per month,” he said.

Hardial Singh, a resident of Chakk Rammu village here, told IANS: “We were living in very miserable and unhygienic conditions. We were eating stale food and drinking dirty water and had lost all hope of returning home. I urge other youths of the state to remain extra-cautious and not fall prey to unscrupulous agents.”

According to LBP officials, hundreds of Punjabi youths are also stuck in countries like Georgia, Italy, Libya and Greece.

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at

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