Sushma Swaraj (1952-2019)

Sushma was a saviour to those in distress abroad

When all seemed lost, intervention by the former Minister of External Affairs saw many people back from the brink

They were stranded for years in an alien nation, hungry, beaten and harassed. And when all seemed lost, there came a lifeline. It was in the form of former Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. A day after Swaraj breathed her last, several victims who were rescued from West Asian countries expressed their gratitude and paid respects to the person they ‘owe’ their lives to.

One such victim, Amena Begum, recounts her ordeal in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and how Swaraj’s intervention brought her back home, safe and sound. It was on May 24, 2017 that an ‘agent’ Azhar, from Bibi Bazaar in the Old City trafficked her there. “I was sent on khadima (domestic help) work. But instead of one house, I was working day and night in three houses: my employer’s, her sister’s and then her mother’s. They didn’t give me money and food was given once in two days. They didn’t give me medication for sugar (diabetes),” she says. It was then her family contacted Majlis Bachao Tahreek leader Amjed Ullah Khan who tweeted, and wrote letters to Swaraj. Soon after, officials of the Indian Mission rescued her. She says, “I do not have a TV. In the morning, I came to know that she died. I was shocked. She did so much for women, Hindu or Muslim. I owe my life to her.”

Much like Amena Begum, Zainab Begum, a resident of Kalapather in the Old City, was sent to Ha’il in Saudi Arabia to work as a domestic help. She too was beaten and when her employer threatened her with dire consequences after she asked for wages, Ms Begum consumed ‘acid’. Many days later, it was a lifebuoy from Swaraj that brought her back home.

Sleepless night

“My daughter told me that Sushma madam passed away on Tuesday night. I could not sleep. How could I? I don’t know what would have happened if Sushma madam did not help me. I would have died there,” she says.

Syed Sadeq is 24 years old. It was on June 24, 2016 that he landed in Saudi Arabia and was taken to Al Hasa governorate. The trauma is such that he seeks help from his father, Syed Aliuddin, to recount his plight. “It was very bad there, sir. My kafeel used to beat me with belts and sticks. I was supposed to be a gardener. But I was forced to live in the same shelter as camels. Once in 15 or 20 days, I was given food and water. I did not know Sushma madam. But my family tells me she brought me back here. I am so grateful to her. It was very bad there,” he says.

Mr Amjed Ullah Khan, recalls with admiration that Swaraj was responsive to all of his tweets of migrants in distress. “A Union Minister herself responding is commendable. There is no case which I brought to her attention that was not looked into. I don’t know if there will be another politician like her,” he says.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 9:41:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/sushma-was-a-saviour-to-those-in-distress-abroad/article28873277.ece

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