Missing Punjab girl shares location in Saudi Arabia, family seeks govt help

Reena Rani’s WhatsApp location placed her in Unayzah City in Al Wusta district of Saudi Arabia.

india Updated: Nov 07, 2017 16:21 IST
Jatinder Mahal
Jatinder Mahal
Hindustan Times, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar
Missing Punjab girl,Missing Indian in Saudi,Indian in Saudi Arabia
The family of a girl from Punjab who is reportedly trapped in Saudi Arabia have approached external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for help.(REUTERS)

The family of a 21-year-old woman from Punjab’s Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, who they say is trapped in Saudi Arabia, approached external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday for help after they received her location on WhatsApp a few days ago.

“Fully cognizant and working on it; she will return home soon @ajxtopcop (sic),” the Indian embassy in Riyadh tweeted after the family approached the minister and them.

They said Reena Rani’s WhatsApp location placed her in Unayzah City in Al Wusta district in the oil-rich country.

Gurbaksh Kaur, 40, and her daughter Rani of Rahon town in SBS Nagar were offered work in Malaysia and paid Rs 5 lakh to the travel agent after selling their farmland in August. But they ended up working as house helps in Saudi Arabia, where they say they were subjected to slave-like working conditions.

Kaur sent a video to her family and requested to be rescued last week. Their family shared her plight on a social media platform after which the media highlighted the case. She returned from Saudi Arabia on November 4 after Swaraj intervened in the matter. However, government agencies failed to trace Rani.

Rani’s cousin Jaswant Kumar hoped she would return home very soon. He added that she had also shared a video 10 days ago on WhatsApp but her mobile phone was found switched off later.

Both were duped by the agent on the pretext that they would get a salary of Rs 20,000 and free accommodation for working in a factory in Malaysia. Kaur said she was sent to Saudi Arabia fraudulently by the agent from Delhi and assured that her daughter will be sent to Malaysia three days later on a separate flight.

Theirs is not an isolated case.

According to government figures, there are some 6 million Indian migrants in the Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman that have long been top destinations for millions of poor labourers, most of whom work in construction, transport and other low-paying sectors.

The government and non-governmental groups have received hundreds of complaints from migrant workers, ranging from non-payment of wages to torture and abuse over the years.

A senior government official told Reuters news agency that in many cases, the difference in culture, language and food habits becomes a hurdle for workers migrating from poor Indian families.

First Published: Nov 07, 2017 16:21 IST