Jagtial: Chittam, 45 a native of Kalleda village in the southern Indian state of Telangana, was among the nearly 450 Indian migrant workers shipped home from Dubai in body bags since 2014. Chittam is said to have died of a stroke, but according Ankathi Gangadhar, the former village head of Kalleda, Chittam was healthy when he came home for a visit last month. He worked in Dubai for 13 years. But he could not save more than Rs. 12000 annually.
According to officials of the Telangana state government, stress, ill health and working in searing temperatures are the most common causes of death in the Gulf region.
Dreaming a comfortable life people have migrated from Telangana to the Gulf, for decades. As per the government figures, about 10,000 people migrate to the Gulf States every year from Telangana, and about 200 on average from Kalleda.
Most migrants believe they will be able to make good money in Dubai in just a few years although they had some economic gains but they paid a heavy price for it, working in inhuman conditions and leaving their families behind. They often take loans to pay agents, hoping to earn enough from working as cleaners and as laborers on construction sites to repay the loan, but their salaries rarely match promises.
As reported by DC, according to official figures there are some 6 million Indian migrants in the six Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman. According to official data, more than 30,000 Indian nationals died in the Gulf states between 2005 and 2015.
Ramanna Chitla who worked in Dubai for 16 years says, “I saw a lot of misery there. Workers were underpaid and poorly treated. They were cheated by their agents with false promises so I thought I would come back and bring a change.” He further observed that workers don’t visit doctors when they are unwell to save money and attributed the deaths to exploitative work conditions.
India’s foreign ministry has made attempts to streamline the recruitment process and suggested workers to go through only authorized agents but still many are lured by the promises unauthorized agents make. According to Chitla, who works as a government-authorised agent there are at least 50 unlicensed agents who are sending hundreds of workers.
Chandrasekhar Boragalla, 26, paid 70,000 rupees to the agent for a job. When he reached there, they made him sign a two-year bond for a salary much lower than what was promised. He wasn’t even paid for three months and was asked to pay 85,000 rupees for leave to go home. Boragalla returned penniless to Jagtial and is still repaying the loan he took to pay the agent.