Government books manpower recruiter for false visa promises

May 25th, 2008 - 7:22 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has filed a case against a Mumbai-based recruiting agent for sending Indian workers to a US shipyard on “false promise” of permanent residency, but not under human trafficking charges, as demanded by the workers. “We have filed a case (against the recruiting agent) for giving false promises to the workers that they will get green card,” Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi told IANS. He added that the case has been filed with Mumbai police.

According to official sources, the recruiting agency, Dewan Consultants, have been accused to cheating, but not of human trafficking, as alleged by the Indian workers.

“There were no signs of coercion or forcible transportation, that can be defined as human trafficking,” said the official.

The workers have been demanding that India should put pressure on the US government to allow their “continued presence” in the country to participate in a federal anti-trafficking investigation, as per the US Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

Indian officials said the workers were asking for T-visas, which allow victims of human trafficking to remain in the US if they agree to assist law enforcement in testifying against the perpetrators.

In 2006, Signal International, a marine fabrication company, had recruited 590 Indian workers, who had gone to the US on H2B guest worker visas valid for 10 months.

The workers had first walked out of the Mississippi and Texas shipyards in March, supported by local civil rights and worker rights groups. About 100 of them marched to Washington demanding action against the US company and asked for permanent residency as assured by their recruiters to whom they allegedly paid $20,000 each.

“Workers were aggrieved on account of alleged poor accommodation and amenities, deductions from their salary for accommodation, food, electricity, water and alleged non-fulfilment of initial commitment of permanent residency status,” Ravi had told Indian parliament in a written reply last month.

The ministry had suspended the licences of the two Indian recruiting agents, Dewan Consultants and S. Mansur and Company, and black-listed the foreign employer.

The ministry has only taken action against Dewan as they had sent all the workers, while Mansur has been contracted with Signal only recently.

The Indian embassy has been instructed not to give visas to the recruiters involved in the case, so that they do not start signing up new workers from India.

The US State Department spokesperson 11 March said: “We have referred the workers’ complaints to the appropriate government agencies.”

The Indian workers are currently on a hunger strike outside the Indian embassy building to put pressure on US to allow them to stay in the country.

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