Mangaluru, May 24, 2017 : Two youths from coastal Karnataka, who were stuck in Saudi Arabia after they were forced to work in a farm without salary for nearly five months, are all set to return to India.
Damodar Shettigar, 31, a native of Gandhinagar in Ganjimat, and Puneeth Jayaraj, 25, of Mulky near Mangaluru, who reached Saudi Arabia on December 20, 2016 with visas to work as auto spray painters, had to work in a farm to look after sheep and camel. A social media campaign the duo launched through whatsapp from the farm by contacting his friends and mediapersons in Mangaluru and Saudi Arabia yielded result. Indian Social Forum (ISF), an organisation of Indians in Saudi Arabia, left no stones unturned to see that two of them are rescued and sent back to Mangaluru safely.
Puneeth told TOI on Tuesday that both of them have got their passports, which was with the sponsor in Saudi Arabia, back through the Saudi Arabian Labour authorities with the help of ISF.
"First four months, we didn’t get job. When we informed the agency, who recruited us in Mangaluru and Mumbai about our problems they did not respond. Though we came here to work as auto spray painters, we were made to look after camels and sheep in a farm and our passport was with the sponsor. We were totally fed up and we sought the help of friends and media persons through social media. Finally, ISF approached us after they came to know about us. They sought all details from us and they assured our help. We are thankful to ISF members and all friends," Puneeth said.
Damodar said, "ISF members took us to labour officials in Saudi Arabia. They listened to our grievances very patiently and offered to help for our return journey. We really thank ISF members, who took our issue and followed it up till the end. Now all official procedures are cleared through labour court here with the help of Forum. We have got our passport and also got the exit permit from the authorities. ISF members are trying to book tickets for us. We will back soon."
TOI had highlighted the plight of two youths in its column on May 16. They had filed a complaint to the Indian Embassy through MADAD (the online Consular Grievances Management System of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs) on April 4, 2017.