MUMBAI, Nov 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Mumbai police have arrested 30 men trying to fly to Kuwait on fake tickets and visas and are looking for the unlicensed recruitment agents who charged them 100,000 rupees ($1,500) to arrange their travel to jobs in the Gulf state.
The men from Uttar Pradesh state in northern India were arrested on Tuesday when they tried checking in at the airport with fake tickets, police said. The men have been charged with cheating and forgery and are being held in custody.
Lata Sirsat, senior inspector with the Mumbai police, said a police team was going to Uttar Pradesh to find the unauthorised recruitment agents who duped these men with fake documents.
“All the men are in their 30s and poor,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Indian officials are trying to crack down on unauthorised agents who promise to organise well paid jobs as cleaners and labourers in the Gulf states but cheat people along the way with complaints ranging from non-payment of wages to physical abuse.
Adverts asking workers seeking jobs overseas to only go through licensed agents are played on the radio daily.
Vivek Sharma, the protector of emigrants in Uttar Pradesh, said this case of fraud was rare.
“This fake ticket fraud and on such a scale involving 30 people is the first such instance that I have come across,” Sharma told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Uttar Pradesh is among the poorest states in India and poverty and lack of jobs force many to migrate to major cities such as Mumbai but campaigners said seeking jobs in the Gulf states is a new development.
“This trend started about two to three years ago and now most people going to the Gulf are from Uttar Pradesh. They are very poor people and in many cases their villages don’t even have roads,” said migrant rights activist Bhim Reddy.
Government figures show there are some six million Indian migrants in the six Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Oman.
($1 = 64.5850 Indian rupees)