Sushma Swaraj
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has responded to a TOI report and tweeted that workers stranded in Dubai after being duped will be helped. Picture: External Affairs Minister Sushma SwarajANI/Twitter

Responding to a newspaper report about migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh, who have had to live in a bus for 14 days after they were brought to Dubai two months ago and defrauded by their agent, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: "I will ask UP Government to register a case against this unscrupulous agent. Our Embassy will help in Dubai. (sic)"

The Times of India had reported on Monday about the deplorable conditions in which a dozen workers were living in Dubai, after being duped by a travel agent who promised them employment and high salary. The labourers, who were charged Rs 60,000-70,000 for their visa, raised loans and in some cases sold off ancestral property and jewellery to pay for it. After the workers reached Dubai, the agency — Qasr Al-Ameer — vanished in a month. The migrants' passports were in the custody of the employer, and they lost their accommodation. After living in a bus on the outskirts of the dazzling city for around two weeks, they were taken in by Indian expatriates, who promised to help them.

Girish Pant, a social activist who works in a private firm in Dubai, and Dubai-based fashion designer Juhi Khan have been helping the migrant workers get their documents processed so they can return home.

"Here, we worked as construction workers and the living conditions were unbearable. When my father came to know about what had happened to us here in Dubai, he took ill and passed away on December 18, apparently due to the shock," Dharmendar (25), one of the workers stranded in Dubai and a resident of Kushinagar, told TOI.

Earlier this month, Swaraj had said in the Lok Sabha that 7,432 complaints of exploitation and torture of workers by employers in the Gulf have been registered in 2015.

Kuwait topped the list with 3,236 such complaints, with Saudi Arabia coming in second at 2,472. There were 806 complaints filed in Bahrain, 413 in Oman, 378 in Qatar, 126 in UAE and one in Jordan, reported PTI.

"Complaints pertaining to employment were taken up by the Indian missions with the concerned foreign employer and labour officials in that country," she had said.

The UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Malaysia have all signed MoUs with India regarding workers' safety. The host countries are compelled to ensure the well-being of workers in the organised sector, and that the recruitment policy would comply with norms of both countries.

A 24x7 helpline has also been established to provide further assistance on overseas employment to workers.