As he touched down in Riyadh on May 15 this year in the hope of landing a job with an automobile service centre, little did Jayanta Biswas know what was coming.
His dreams soon lay shattered as the 23-year-old Naihati resident was sold as a slave to a Saudi national.
Conned by his agents with the promise of a lucrative job, the 23-year-old automobile engineer was a broken man with no help in sight.
After learning of his plight, his distressed family members dialed External Affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and urged help for his return. However, several days have passed since and they are yet to get any word on when he could be back home.
Consigned to slaving for his Saudi master, or Kafeel, he was made to cut grass and feed his ostriches. He didn’t get a penny for his trouble and was only given a measly meal in the evening.
If you thought he couldn’t have had it worse, think again. His master, Naief Bookme, unleashed sexual abuse on him and even tried to lure him into a sexual intercourse.
Abused, helpless and humiliated, he was left with no recourse but to flee his master’s house. On the night of July 16, he made an escape bid, but it came to nought. He woke up next morning to find his master trying to push a needle through his veins. Sensing he was being drugged, he tried to resist but was beaten bloody. He had injuries all over his body.
With all avenues of escape seemingly closed, he arrived at the Indian embassy one morning and narrated his ordeal to Hifizul Rahman, second secretary (political information and culture) at the mission.
After recording his statement, the Indian Embassy opened a file (#2710) in his name and sent him to an NGO in the Saudi capital city.
Even as Jayanta set sights on a homecoming at a time all hopes seemed lost, his master lodged a complaint with the police claiming he stole 10,000 Riyals. He was promptly put behind bars on August 9. However, the youth did manage to get in touch with his kin in Naihati and briefed them on his plight.
His family members, in turn, rang up his agents in Delhi and Mumbai. “My brother had approached Muneer Ahmed of Al-Hamd manpower Consultant Services in Delhi. He took Rs1 lakh from my brother and introduced him to H M Sadique, owner of Mumbai based Hafiz Manpower Consultants. He then sent him to Tabrez Alam of Alvi Manpower Services at Nagpada Junction of Mumbai,” Ria Biswas, Jayanta’s cousin, told HT.
Alam later got him on a plane to Riyadh with a tourist visa.
“My brother was told he would get a work visa after staying there for three months and find a job at an automobile service centre,” his cousin told HT.
She said they got to know of his plight after the prison authorities allowed him to talk to his kin over phone. “We urged Alam to help. He demanded Rs 35,000 for my brother’s release. We paid the amount and he was released from prison on October 27,” Ria said.
Though out of jail, his family members are clueless on his return. His father, Rabindranath Biswas, even wrote to the MEA (ministry of external affairs) and its minister Sushma Swaraj, saying, “The Indian Embassy is not co-operating with us. He (Jayanta) needs a temporary travel document to return to India. However, we are not getting desired co-operation from there and (he’s) still stuck in Riyadh. We are even ready to pay all the expenses for his return to India.”
His family didn’t move the police against the agents for fear that they could use their contacts in Riyadh to delay his release indefinitely.
Biswas took training in automobile engineering from a private institute in north Bengal.