Tales of suffering continue to pour in from Indian workers in Qatar

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Rema George, social worker and political activist, visited Qatar last month to examine the conditions in which Indian workers employed in the Gulf state live and work. (Photo/Social media)
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Inside a labor camp in Qatar. (AN Photo)
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Workers in Qatar’s labor camps tell tales of inhumane living conditions. (AN Photo)
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Workers in Qatar’s labor camps tell tales of inhumane living conditions. (AN Photo)
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Workers in Qatar’s labor camps tell tales of inhumane living conditions. (AN Photo)
Updated 09 August 2018

Tales of suffering continue to pour in from Indian workers in Qatar

  • There are around 50 labor camps in Qatar, many without basic amenities, Indian political activist claims
  • She also says that many laborers are being “kept illegally” in the camps after their visas have expired

NEW DELHI: Durlal Singh sold his farmland to secure a ticket to Qatar in 2015. Three years on, the 35-year old carpenter from the Barnala district of the north Indian state of Punjab, regrets that choice.

“Since January, I have not received payment from the construction company. I have been working there for the last three years. It’s the worst crisis I have faced in my life,” Singh told Arab News from his labor camp in Qatar. “There have been only assurances and nothing else. I have stopped sending money back home because I am earning hardly anything. But I am managing somehow to survive and hoping that things will improve.”

Singh went on to describe his “sub-human” situation.

“Electricity is available only during the daytime,” he explained. “We struggle to get water and other basic amenities. My situation will not improve until I get a regular job and the perks and payments that are overdue to me and other workers.”

Singh said the Indian Embassy in Qatar had “assured every help” but that its words were “a formality” and he had received little “genuine support.”

Surinder Singh, who comes from the Jalandhar district in Punjab, is equally distraught. The 60-year-old mechanic has been in Qatar for over 15 years, and said he has never faced the kind of “humiliation” that he now faces.

“At this stage in life, working as a part-time mechanic does not fetch you much money and you cannot earn enough to send money back home,” he said.

For the past five months, Singh claimed, he has not received his agreed salary from the construction company he works for. His earnings, currently, are dependent on the number of days he is given work.

“If you don’t have a regular contract in the company, you are not earning good money and you are not getting any perks,” he said. “Thanks to some local charities run by expatriates, I am managing to eat and survive. But if you see the living conditions, it is really miserable. I hope the situation improves as has been promised by the authorities here.”

The story of Uppu Tripuati from the southern Indian state of Telangana is similarly depressing. Last year, Tripuati was jailed for five months. He was arrested because the company where he worked as a mechanic had failed to properly implement legally required safety measures.

“I ended up spending five months in jail through no fault of my own,” the 34-year-old said. “My company refused to bail me out and it’s only because of the efforts of the Indian community that I managed to get some money together so I could be released.”

Getting out of jail was not the end of Tripuati’s troubles however. Since his release, he said, “Life has not been smooth. The financial burden has gone up and job uncertainty has increased. My wife complains that I am not sending her money.”

Rema George, a 42-year-old social worker and political activist, visited Qatar last month. She went there after hearing about the plight of workers from the southern Indian state of Kerala, her home.

“I had heard that more than 1,200 people had lost their jobs and had not been paid for many months,” she said. “To get a sense of the situation I went to Qatar. I was not officially allowed to visit the labor camps. I was pursued wherever I went and it was tough to meet the workers inside their homes. However, I managed to (do that) and hear their grievances first hand.”

George said she had written a letter to the Indian Embassy in Qatar “listing all the problems confronting the workers there and they agreed to look into the matter.”

“In Qatar, there are more than 50 labor camps and many of them don’t have basic amenities. These have cropped up after (it) won the bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Many laborers are being kept illegally in the camps despite their visas having expired,” George claimed.

Navy destroyer’s Beirut visit a ‘security reminder’: US envoy

Updated 22 min 53 sec ago

Navy destroyer’s Beirut visit a ‘security reminder’: US envoy

BEIRUT: The US Navy destroyer USS Ramage docked at the port of Beirut for 24 hours as a “security reminder,” according to Elizabeth Richard, the US ambassador to Lebanon.

“The US Navy is not far away, and Our ships were often near the Mediterranean, and will remain so,” the American envoy said.

Ricard and Vice Admiral James J. Malloy – the commander of the 5th Fleet – whose area of responsibility includes the waters of Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, hosted ‘an on-board reception for US and Lebanese officials.’

USS Ramage is an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, named after Vice Admiral Lawson P. Ramage, a notable submarine commander and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II. The ship specializes in destroying guided missiles launched from warships, aside from providing multiple offensive and defensive tasks.

Richard assured that “the security and stability in the East Mediterranean are of utmost importance to the United States and to Lebanon as well, and with regards to the issue of oil derivatives that concerns more than one state in the region, we hope that Lebanon joins in, as the issue of maritime security will soon acquire more importance.”

She assured that: “the presence of the USA in these waters is of common interest, and the presence of the American destroyer in Lebanon is a political message.”

Richard also said that partnership with Lebanon was not limited to military cooperation, and that the USA is “committed to help the Lebanese people through this period of economic hardship, and to supporting the Lebanese institutions that defend Lebanese sovereignty.”

Meanwhile, Admiral Malloy said during the reception that “our military relations with Lebanon transcends the issue of military hardware, and the Lebanese armed forces have set plans to improve its naval capabilities, and the USA will continue playing the primary role in supporting these efforts.”

Built in 1993, the USS Ramage was put into active service in 1995 with a crew of almost 300 officers and enlisted personnel. It is 154 meters long and 20 meters and could reach a top speed of 30 knots, or 56 kilometers per hour.