‘No one wants to hire us’
Yaseen Khwaja lives in Quresh Nagar. That simple fact, he believes, is enough to ruin his chances of getting a job. Every time the 28-year-old air-conditioning repairman goes to find work along with friends from other areas, he is the only one turned away, he says.mumbai Updated: Jul 26, 2010 01:19 IST
Yaseen Khwaja lives in Quresh Nagar. That simple fact, he believes, is enough to ruin his chances of getting a job.
Every time the 28-year-old air-conditioning repairman goes to find work along with friends from other areas, he is the only one turned away, he says.
“It is almost as if we have been backlisted,” said Hassan Sheikh, 24, his friend in Quresh Nagar, from where the police have arrested two men in connection with the kidnappings, rapes and murders of three girls this year.
One man remains in police custody for his suspected involvement in the third rape, but the other, who was arrested for the first and the second, is out on bail.
The police are yet to file charge sheets against them. In the minds of many young, unskilled and semi-skilled labourers from this locality in Kurla’s Nehru Nagar, their address is the only reason they can no longer find daily-wage jobs on construction sites and air-conditioning repair shops. They have recently written to the chief minister to help them.
Salman Quereshi, 26, an air-conditioning mechanic, says he has been unemployed for more than two months, after the police detained him for questioning.
Shoeb Sheikh, 24, a high-school dropout who worked on construction sites, says contractors no longer want to hire him because he lived right next to the suspect who is still in police custody.
While there is no evidence to show there is a full economic boycott under way, some employers do not deny they would rather hire from elsewhere, although they seem to be doing this more for logistical reasons than out of prejudice.
“We never know when the police will summon a Quresh Nagar resident for questioning and for how long,” said Mukesh Sharma (40), who undertakes contracts for installing electrical connections.
“This hampers our work as we have the meet a deadlines. So as far as possible, we avoid hiring people from that locality.”
Added an owner of an air-conditioning duct manufacturing unit in Kurla, requesting anonymity: “It's not that we consider residents of Quresh Nagar to be criminals. It’s just that we don’t want any kind of trouble with the police because they are all being investigated.”
The police have questioned about 400 men, and will continue to question more.
Suryakant Sawant, inspector of Nehru Nagar police station, did not want to comment.
But Akram Khan, 35, for instance, says he could not report to work on many days because they summoned him for questioning so frequently. His employer finally fired him last month, he says.