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500 Kerala nurses stranded in UAE after agents lure them with jobs

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 16-05-2021 Ramesh Babu
a group of people walking down a street: Some of the nurses said they had applied in the UAE after they were told that there were enough vacancies and many hospitals needed nurses urgently due to the pandemic situation. (Image used for representation). (HT FILE PHOTO.) © Provided by Hindustan Times Some of the nurses said they had applied in the UAE after they were told that there were enough vacancies and many hospitals needed nurses urgently due to the pandemic situation. (Image used for representation). (HT FILE PHOTO.)

Nearly 500 nurses from Kerala who were promised high salaries and other perks were reportedly stranded in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) after recruiting agents allegedly cheated them. Some of them have returned but others are still stranded and they said they were forced to work as home nurses and masseurs in parlours.

One of them, Reen Rajan (30) said she applied for the job after she came across an advertisement in leading newspapers that UAE was recruiting nurses on urgent basis in view of the pandemic situation and Keralites would be given preference. She said she had to cough up 2.30 lakh to the agent and later she was granted a visit visa. When asked about this, she said, the agent had told her that a work visa would be granted once they reach the UAE.

“We were kept in dingy rooms for about a month. Some of them have returned after they got to know they were cheated. We had been recruited by a Kochi-based agency ‘Take Off” two months back. Now these agents are saying we can work in care homes and massage parlours,” said Reena Rajan, who quit her job with a private hospital in Kollam to take up the new assignment. She said she had sent a letter to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan narrating her plight and had also taken up the issue with her legislator K B Ganesh Kumar.

Her brother Rijo Rajan, who works in Kollam said, after he came to know about his sister’s plight he made inquiries about the agency and found that its proprietor Firoze Khan was allegedly involved in another case of cheating and was in jail for some time. He said after his release he closed his agency “Keydot” and started a fresh one “Take Off” to cheat gullible aspirants. Most of the stranded nurses said they paid between 2-4 lakh to get the visa.

“Some of us have taken a loan to pay up. They know our precarious financial situation and so they are forcing us to do odd jobs. We were promised a pay packet of one lakh and accommodation and they showed us some videos of nurses recruited by them. We were asked not to disclose it to anyone as recruitment of nurses was only permitted through government-approved agencies in the state,” another nurse Susan Saji said. Some of them said they had applied after they were told that there were enough vacancies and many hospitals needed nurses urgently due to the pandemic situation.

To contain the exploitation of such job aspirants, earlier both the Union and state governments had constituted special agencies for their recruitment--- in Kerala nurses are recruited through the Overseas Development and Employment Promotion Consultants Ltd and Non-Residents Keralites Affairs. When contacted the CM’s office said it is yet to know about their complaint. Despite such approved agencies, many aspirants approach such dubious agents and get cheated.

Last year, the Kerala police had busted a gang that recruited models to the middle-east countries and later force to become escorts and gold carriers. Once land up in foreign countries, these gang members seize passport and other documents and helpless will be forced to toe their diktats.

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