Gulf returnees falling in debt trap

  • Ashok Das, Hindustan Times, Nizamabad
  • Updated: Nov 26, 2007 14:21 IST

The story of the exodus of workers to countries like Dubai in search of livelihoods is turning more tragic by the day. Many of them take huge loans to make the journey, only to be duped by unscrupulous agents. Many find living and working in a foreign land far too difficult. Far too many of them come back home worse off then they were before. And now, more and more workers struggling to pay back loans and debts are killing themselves. <b1>

Chandu of Tadkapally village here too decided to try his luck in Dubai after his wife Ambi was diagnosed with cancer and he ran up huge bills for her treatment. He borrowed Rs 1 lakh and gave it to a travel agent who promised him a “ready-made job”. But barely six months after he reached Dubai, he was deported for being an illegal immigrant (he had been duped by his agent and sent on a visitor’s visa). And a month ago — a fortnight after he came home a broken man — he committed suicide. Moneylenders are now hounding his widow, who has three children besides her own treatment to take care of, for the Rs 3 lakh Chandu owes them.

There are many like Chandu. The state government puts the toll at 10 but opposition parties say it is much more. “We have the names of 50 people who’ve committed suicide. There have been 40 suicides in Nizamabad and Karimnagar alone these last three months,” TRS MLA T. Harish Rao told HT. <b2>

“What’s bizarre is that a large number of suicides have taken place in Kamareddy, the constituency of Minister for Minority Welfare Mohd Ali Shabbir, who heads the government’s high-powered committee tasked with bringing back stranded immigrants and resettling them,” Rao added.

Lingam, from Kamareddy, went to Dubai last year. He returned five months ago with a Rs 2 lakh debt. With no way of paying back the amount, he consumed pesticide. His pregnant wife Narsavva does not know what to do: “Unless the government helps, I may be forced to commit suicide too.”

About 55,000 people of Andhra origin have been declared illegal immigrants in the Gulf and over 45,000 have returned, according to Sabir.

The government has of late initiated efforts to get them employment here. Over 45,000 Gulf returnees recently attended job melas and more than 11,000 have been selected. The government has also ordered the affected districts’ SPs to crack down on travel agents and brokers.

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