Kerala

How recruitment racket dupes jobseekers

Kottarakara natives faced detention, hunger and forced labour in Malaysia

When Ananthu Vijayan and his five friends boarded the flight to Malaysia on April 8, they had no clue on the ordeal that awaited them.

All of them were qualified technicians, who were on their way to join Tesco, a multinational, and work in its LED television assembling unit. But on June 9 they had to return duped, exhausted and their passports confiscated.

While in Malaysia the Kottarakara natives had to face everything from detention, hunger and forced labour till they were rescued by the timely intervention of K. Somaprasad, MP.

“Ajith, an agent near our home, told us about the opportunities in Malaysia and directed us to Gireesh Kumar who handles recruitments. He convinced us we need only visitor visas since it was election time in Malaysia and assured job visas within 10 days. Each of us paid ₹55,000 to him and another 25,000 Malaysian ringgits to his Malaysian agent Balamurali on arrival,” says Ananthu.

On reaching Malaysia they were kept in a flat arranged by Balamurali for 13 days since they had no work permit.

“When our visas were about to expire we questioned him and he moved us to another place and forced us to join a packaging unit. We worked there for a few days since they assured to shift us to the technical unit soon. But later we came to know that the only jobs available were loading and working in oil palm farms, that too without food and accommodation,” he says.

When they refused to work they were detained and threatened.

“We were not given any food for a couple of days and later our phones too were seized. We were kept at a place called Amanjaya without any work permit or visa and the agent had our passports.

We escaped from there and with the help of Malayali Association contacted the embassy,” he says.

By then their families had contacted K. Somaprasad, MP, who got in touch with the embassy and arranged temporary passports for them.

No stray incident

Mr. Somaprasad says it’s not a stray incident and everything points to the involvement of a wide recruitment racket.

“Even today a similar case was brought to my attention and according to those who returned there are a lot of people still trapped in Malaysia. If your stay exceeds the expiry of your visa you will have to pay the penalty. There are many people who cannot afford the penalty and flight charges and often their vulnerability is exploited to get cheap labour,” he says.

Following a complaint lodged by Ananthu and his friends and many others, Gireesh Kumar, the agent who recruited them, was arrested by Vakathanam police and is currently on remand.

“I am planning to take it up with Central Government and State police so that a comprehensive probe can be launched,” says Mr. Somaprasad.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 2:27:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/how-recruitment-racket-dupes-jobseekers/article24157165.ece

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