Illegal migrants add to woes of Indian mission in Kabul

March 07, 2010 11:35 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 07:06 am IST - KABUL:

Migrants from Andhra Pradesh at a  Kabul Gurdwara. Photo: K.V. Prasad

Migrants from Andhra Pradesh at a Kabul Gurdwara. Photo: K.V. Prasad

Grappling with an already difficult situation in the wake of terror attacks directed against Indians, the Indian mission is saddled with a new problem of illegal immigrants.

The lure of striking it rich has led to an increased inflow of skilled labourers from India in the past four-six months. They have land here only to realise they have been duped.

In a familiar story heard in several other countries, these less educated workers are stuck without proper travel documents, charged by local authorities with overstaying and they have no money to return home.

But such cases are no longer limited to northern Indian States and are reported from beyond the Vindhyas also. The latest migrants are a group of about 30 from Andhra Pradesh — a majority from the districts of Karimnagar, Adilabad and Nizamabad.

“Please do something for us. We came here after selling our assets to pay Rs.1.50 lakh to the agent back home. On arrival in Kabul last year, we were herded into camps by the agents' counterparts… Our passports are with the agents. We are stuck” Rajanna from Karimnagar told The Hindu .

Along with some persons of the A.P. group, and others from Rajasthan, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, he has now taken shelter in a local gurdwara in the Karte Parvan area.

Sixty-odd workers were found in different labour camps that were closed after a police crackdown following the February 26 blast.

“The gurdwara is providing them with food at langar [community kitchen] and shelter on humanitarian grounds,” said Manmohan Singh, a dry-fruit businessman at the Sikh shrine.

He says that over the last few months, some 180 workers have found shelter in the gurdwara and are staying put, awaiting travel documents and legal formalities to be completed before heading back home.

Speaking in Telugu to this correspondent, almost all workers from Andhra Pradesh had similar tales to tell. Of pawning family property or disposing of meagre assets in the hope of a brighter future promised — of earning up to Rs.25,000 a month.

All of them arrived on a one-month visa and are stuck as illegal migrants. Compounding their problem is a fine of $5 imposed by local authorities for each day of overstay. In some cases, the workers said, the agents demanded money to extend their visa, which was subsequently found to be fake. The agents here are now in custody.

Having survived harsh weather and on the frugal food offered at the labour camps, for them life is better at the gurdwara. Besides being served food, tea and biscuits, they have been provided with quilts, mattress as also bukhari (traditional room heaters) in the dormitories.

Political counsellor J.P. Singh said the embassy was extending legal assistance and working with local authorities to help those who were cheated. The mission provides tickets for those who cannot manage funds and at times, the staff pitch in with their contribution.

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