Enslaved in Gulf for 17 yrs, TN man back, wife remarried last year

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ajtr, Jun 4, 2012.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Enslaved in Gulf for 17 yrs, TN man back, wife remarried last year

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    His rescue from slavery in the Gulf was nothing short of a miracle. However, Periyasamy’s tears haven’t dried up. Seventeen years after he left to work in Saudi Arabia as a shepherd, only to be kept in confinement by his employer, he has returned to find that the woman he left as a new bride is married to another man.

    Akila waited to hear from him for almost two decades before finally succumbing to family pressure and tying the knot again.

    Now 45, Periyasamy was a young man in his late 20s, married for just a few months, when he received the offer to work as a shepherd, tending goats and camels in the Gulf, for 500 riyals a month in 1993-94 (he is no longer sure of the year). He had done a stint in the Gulf in the late ’80s, and readily accepted the chance for a second.

    It was when he reached Hial in Saudi Arabia that he realised that he had signed on for an agreement to work as a shepherd for 20 years. He was denied monthly salary by his employer, made to work from before daybreak till after midnight, given just one meal a day and beaten up for putting up any resistance.

    “I am illiterate, so could not write any letter to my family to describe my struggles. Also, as the employer kept my passport and all other documents, it was impossible for me to escape,” says Periyasamy, now sitting in the verandah of his modest house at Karakkudi village.

    Even his family members were scared of his “tough” employer, he adds. “They were kinder to me, but there was little they could do.”

    As his watch stopped functioning after a while, he lost all perspective of time. Next to go were Periyasamy’s memories of his village and family, but for disconnected bits that would suddenly strike him in the middle of a day. As he picked up Arabic, he believed he had also lost the ability to converse in Tamil.

    Back home, as days, months and then years passed without any news from Periyasamy, his family feared the worst. His mother Alamelu was the only one who clung on to hope. “I believed he would come back. Astrologers too assured me that my son was alive,” she says.

    It was a neighbour who had been noticing Periyasamy’s condition who finally informed the local police authorities about him. They came over to inspect the house even as officials at the Indian Consulate got wind of the matter. As the latter took it up with the Saudi authorities, Periyasamy was rescued from his employer’s house and taken to a police station.

    However, the authorities faced a major hurdle: Periyasamy had forgotten most things about his native place, making it difficult for them to trace his family in Tamil Nadu. Apart from remembering Perambalur, he had little recollection of his village.

    Again, fate struck. Says younger brother Kannappa, a farm hand who has also worked in the Gulf briefly: “A person from our neighbouring village who was coming on leave was told by officials about the case. When he came here, he started asking around if anyone knew a person who had been missing in Saudi Arabia for years. Word spread and it finally reached us, after which we contacted the Indian officials there. It was a miracle.”

    Kannappa was a school student when Periyasamy had left home. Not surprisingly, the elder brother could not recognise the grown-up man waiting for him at the Chennai airport when he arrived home in April end.

    Ironically, on the airport premises, a woman claimed Periyasamy was her missing husband Selvam. Her brothers had to pull her away. It was only when he reached home that it was finally revealed to Periyasamy that his own wife was now gone.

    “We ran out of lies and he was adamant that he would go to her house to see her. So we had to tell him the truth,” says Kannappa.

    His family members say Periyasamy cried a lot and is trying still to get over her. He is also hoping to start a new life again, with the money that his Arab employer has been ordered to pay him. While 5,000 riyals were given to him to take care of his expenses till he reached home, he is yet to get the full amount. Officials at the Indian Consulate are making arrangements to transfer the money to his account in a local bank here.

    Periyasamy hopes to marry again, raise a family of his own near his home. He wants to own a vehicle too if he can afford it — he used to drive tractors once. At other times, the long years of his lost life crowd in on him. “I think perhaps I should return to the desert. There is nothing much left for me here.”
     
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  3. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Now let us shepherd these Young Saudis to this man's home and show them the ugly face of Saudi Arabia, a land of tyranny!
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    More than than that it thread should be an eye opener to the people on DFI feel happy by calling pakistanis as servants of arabs and happily post videos about it unless they forget how women from india going to gulf to take up household maid jobs are pushed into prostitution.
     
  5. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    You miss the point.

    You claim to be Arabs by descent and when you go there, they treat you as bonded slaves.

    Indians don't claim to be the stinking Arab sweaty camel smelling Bedouin that you so proudly claim.
     
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  6. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Yes this was a sad story that I read about in April. Note that when the matter was brought to the notice of the Saudi authorities by another Saudi, the himself employer was arrested and put in prison and faces jail time for his action. As the article mentions, all you need to do is go to the authorities and know your rights. Most workers don't realise that it is illegal for a Saudi employer to not pay wages and keep him captive like this and all they need to do is contact the local police to rectify the situation.

    And Labour issues is something that are always discussed with Indian officials. minimum labour agreement standards are now on the agenda and the Saudis have already moved ahead with cancelling the individual sponsorship system. It will have things like minimum wage and vacation requirements as well as no holding of passports that happen in the current system. And this is among other things due to Indian pressure on labour issues
    Saudi Arabia to cancel individual sponsorship of expatriates - Emirates 24/7

    Since Indians comprise 2 million of the expat workforce and around 60% are in blue collar jobs, it would benefit them the most. Countries like UAE are also planning to create induction centres in India for new workers so that they are aware of their rights and read and understand their contracts before signing them. The difference is that the Pakistani govt. doesn't care or even discuss labour issues with the Saudi govt. unlike the GoI which does.


    And another source
     

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