Aimed at saving gullible Punjabi youth from falling prey to unscrupulous travel agents and employers in Arab countries, the NRI Sabha, Punjab, has joined hands with philanthropist SPS Oberoi to set up a special helpdesk at Dubai to get work permits and visas duly verified before job seekers would board their flights.
“On an average, over 30 Punjabi youth are being deported from Dubai airport every month for travelling on fake visa. The gullible Punjabi youth are being duped of their hard-earned money by travel agents in India. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) police had arrested some Punjabis after finding them of breaching visa rules by travelling on fake visas even after being deported earlier,” Dubai-based Oberoi told Hindustan Times after emerging from a meeting with the sabha president Jasvir Singh Gill here on Tuesday.
Terming exploitation of job seekers from Punjab in Arab countries a worrisome trend, Oberoi said in some cases travel agents used to forge appointment letters to lure job seekers with high salaries.
“In genuine visa cases, it was found that a section of job seekers, hired for petty assignments, were actually retained at less than 30% of the salary promised by travel agents while appointment letters were found to be forged,” he said, adding that it was virtually difficult to afford daily bread for a day in such low salaried jobs.
“Such a situation usually compelled these youths to run away from their original employers and get involved in illegal means like liquor smuggling for earning handsome money. Since their passports are in custody of their employers, they can't even travel back to Punjab. A large number of such people are languishing in jails there after being arrested by the Dubai police,” he said.
Oberoi, who is also president of “Sarbat Da Bhala” - a charity organisation in Dubai - said they provide air tickets to all Punjabis, who completed their sentence so as to enable them return to their homeland. “We had provided free-of-cost air tickets to nearly 700 Punjabis so far. In Sharjah jail, we have set up a permanent air ticket counter so that immediate travel arrangements can be done on completion of jail term of such detainees,” he added.
Sabha president Gill said the helpdesk was being set up in Dubai to ascertain credentials of employers, authenticity of the visa, work permit and employment letters of the applicants. “We will forward copies of these documents to helpdesk in Dubai, which will submit its report in a particular case, within a week. The same will be handed over to the job seeker so that he can be doubly sure about his future employment in Arab countries. Oberoi has agreed to extend all secretarial facilities in this regard without charging any fee,” Gill said.
He added that a formal proposal to this effect was being forwarded to the sabha chairman Anurag Verma for his approval and the helpdesk would be made operational soon. “It will keep a check on unscrupulous travel agents,” Gill said.
“After the success of this pilot project, we will set up such units in European Union, North America and Australia as well in a phased manner,” he added.