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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Five Punjabis, a Himachali in captivity in Saudi Arabia

Harpreet Kaur, Hindustan Times  Hoshiarpur, February 12, 2013
First Published: 18:41 IST(12/2/2013) | Last Updated: 18:42 IST(12/2/2013)

Six Indians, five from Punjab and one from Himachal Pradesh, are reportedly living lives in captivity in Saudi Arabia, as their employer, Namla Transport Corporation, has allegedly refused to extend their visas. Afraid of being caught by the local police, they cannot venture beyond the den they have been put up in.

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The group includes Gurmit Singh of Nalhoti (Ropar), Daljit Singh of Mustapur (Jalandhar), Jasvir Singh of Gurbaxpura, Dhuri, Kishori Lal of Kangra, Harpreet Singh and Gurvinder Singh of Nawa Pind, Batala.

Hoshiarpur-based travel agent Jaspal Singh of Aman Enterprises had sent them abroad in September 2012. They were provided with visas for three months.

Talking to this correspondent over phone, one of them claimed that they had worked for three months in the country, but were not paid any salary.

“Before being sent, we were promised good jobs, but for three months we were just made to run petty errands and paid only to fulfill our basic needs,” said Gurvinder Singh.

“Company officials have not even issued us identity cards nor renewed our visas. Our passports are also with them. On inquiries and complaints, we are told to speak to the agent who sent us here,” he alleged.

He alleged that the agent Jaspal Singh has simply refused to listen to them.

“We do not have money even to feed ourselves. We are dependent on other Indian expatriates. We are virtually jailed, as we cannot even move out of the camp, lest be caught without visas,” said Harpreet Singh.

“We want to come back home but we do not have the resources to do so,” he sobbed. Daljit Singh said they all belonged to poor families and borrowed money to go abroad, but were defrauded by the agent. However, the agent Jaspal Singh said that he had done no wrong.

“I have been sending people abroad for 15 years. Such an issue has never risen before. There is a dispute Namla Transport Corporation, and the Saudi Arabia embassy about 'Iqama' fees. The issue will be resolved soon,” said Jaspal.

“The group was sent through the proper channel. If they do not get good jobs soon, I will return their money.”

Jaspal Singh claimed to have charged around Rs. 70,000 each from the youth. However, the latter claimed that had given the agent Rs. 1.25-1.50 lakh each. Jasvir's father Piara Singh said that he repented having allowed his son to go abroad.

“I thought he will be able to send some money to build a house. Now, I am worried about the repayment of debt.

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