Workers protest over Bahrain travel ban
Manama, June 8, 2011
Workers allegedly stranded in Bahrain under a travel ban imposed in 2006 protested outside the Indian Embassy in Manama.
More than 50 men gathered outside the embassy after one of them lost a brother in a car accident in India on Monday, but was unable to return home for the funeral.
Raju Doggiya's father, wife and son are also said to have suffered critical injuries in the accident.
The men came to Bahrain to work for the Abdulla Nass Construction Company, which lodged a complaint against them years ago for not showing up for work, according to a spokesman for the workers.
He said a court ordered the employees to pay compensation ranging from BD400 to BD600 for violating their contracts, allegedly incurring losses for the company.
However, the men left the firm long before they discovered they were subject to a travel ban.
They only found out they were stuck here when they tried to leave Bahrain last year during an amnesty for illegal workers, added the spokesman.
An Indian Embassy official told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN) yesterday it was in contact with the company and was seeking urgent permission for Doggiya to return home.
'All the workers are desperate to go home, but the immediate action is to send Mr Doggiya as his brother was killed in an accident and other family members are critical,' said the official.
'We have been following this case for the past two years, but still the company is asking for compensation, which the poor labourers are unable to pay.
'They don't have proper jobs, no valid documents, so what they can do?
'Each individual has to pay BD400 to BD600 according to the court, which they can't.'
The men come from Punjab and Andhra Pradesh, in India, and claim they had to pay around BD800 to secure a visa.
They claim they were promised a monthly salary of around BD100, but were paid just BD45 and had to take on extra jobs to make ends meet.
The embassy has now forwarded their case to a law firm in a bid to resolve the dispute, although the official said the workers didn't know about any court verdict.
'We have forwarded the case to legal firm, which has asked the court to reconsider its decision,' said the embassy official.
A lawyer handling the case told the GDN a hearing had been scheduled for June 26.
'We came to Bahrain to work and support our families by paying a huge amount of money,' said one of the workers, who asked to remain anonymous.
'We signed a contract in India through an agent and it said we were supposed to get BD100 per month.
'But when we arrived here and started working we got only BD45, which is not enough.
'So we started working for other companies, doing odd jobs to earn more money.
'But the company got to know about us and filed a complaint.
'It is five years now and we haven't seen our families, as we can't go back.
'We just want to go home and we want the embassy to help us. 'We have been knocking on the embassy's doors for the past two years and met with the ambassador yesterday, who pledged to follow the case.' A company official confirmed the case, but would not comment further.-TradeArabia News Service