Key Indian welfare group helps distressed workers

December 29, 2012 - 2:47:44 am

From left, P S Sasikumar, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of India; Baby Kurien, Vice President of the Indian Community Benevolent Forum, and Sanjiv Arora, Ambassador of India, at the media briefing yesterday.  Salim Matramkot

DOHA: Not many Indian runaway workers approach a key community welfare corpus which is affiliated to the Indian embassy here for help in repatriation, an official said yesterday.

The corpus, Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF), provided air tickets to six runaway workers this month so they could travel home, and among them were two housemaids who had escaped their sponsors.

“This is normally the average number of runaway workers who contact us for assistance every month, and we refer them to the embassy,” said Baby Kurien, Vice President of ICBF, which has a help desk at the embassy.

The embassy, in turn, refers them to the authorities concerned and ask the ICBF to provide air tickets to genuine cases, Kurien added.

He was speaking at a press briefing held at the embassy after the monthly open house yesterday which was presided over by the Indian Ambassador, Sanjiv Arora. Present was P S Sasi Kumar, deputy head of mission.

Asked what the embassy is doing to help distressed or abandoned low-income Indian workers who need to return home urgently but are normally sent back by the deportation centre and asked to come back after sometime, Arora said their fellow workers generally come to their rescue.

Asked if the embassy had taken up the issue of deportation centres understandably not having adequate space, with the Qatari authorities, Arora briefly stated: “A policy view needs to be taken by the government of Qatar”.

Arora said this was the fifth open house since he arrived here and the last of 2012. Some 11 Indians had turned up with varying grievances, among them being pending salary arrears, court cases and problems with employers.

“There were a couple of complaints about maltreatment as well,” he said, adding that the embassy would take up these woes for redress through appropriate channels. 

“We also interact with employers,” said the envoy when asked if the embassy got back to the employers of the complainants as well.

The number of deaths in the Indian community registered with the embassy until yesterday was 236 — as against 239 for last year, the ambassador said, adding in reply to a question that details such as natural deaths and those caused by heart attacks or road accidents were not available offhand.

The Peninsula