NEW DELHI: It has been more than four years since Laxmi Reddy last saw her husband Ramesh Reddy, who went to Qatar in 2014 from Mosra village in the southern Indian state of Telangana.
“When he reached Qatar, he called me up from the airport. A few days later, he rang me again,” said Laxmi.
“A month later when he called me, he was very distraught and said it’s very difficult for him to sustain the working conditions. After that, I never heard from him,” she added, sobbing.
“I don’t know anyone. The local agent is helpless. I’m an illiterate woman and don’t know how to go about finding him,” said Laxmi, who ekes out a living working on a farm.
“I want to reach out to the government, but no one in the village is capable enough to guide me,” she added.
“He was quite happy in Bahrain, where he spent four years. The handsome money he got from there helped us build a new house, but Qatar has ruined our lives.”
Patkuri Basanth Reddy, head of the Gulf Migrant Workers’ Welfare Association in Telangana, tried to help Laxmi a couple of years ago.
He met the local government and contacted the Indian Embassy in Qatar, but “the case couldn’t move further,” he said.
“I tried my level best to ameliorate Laxmi’s suffering. It’s really a matter of concern how the man disappeared,” added Patkuri, who has worked in the Gulf, and for many years has been helping laborers facing difficult conditions in the region.
“I’m planning to meet the Indian foreign minister, Sushma Swaraj, with a list of individuals who are missing, not only in Qatar but also other Gulf countries.”
Shravan Kumar returned to India in June, having been a migrant worker in Qatar.
He said he is still in “disbelief” that he survived two years there, his “ordeal” having started from the day he landed.
“The guy who came to pick me up at the airport took my passport and other documents, and I was put in a small room where 16 workers were already staying,” Kumar added.
“Instead of eight hours, as I was promised, I was made to work 12 hours per day. After work, I was asked to confine myself to my room, without being given liberty to roam around and interact with people freely,” he said.
“The packaging company where I was working used to treat its employees very shabbily. Within two months I started feeling worn out, and the lack of a proper salary forced me to leave the company,” he added.
“Then I approached the Indian Embassy, which gave me 600 Qatari riyals ($165). With that money, I survived for the next year,” Kumar said.
“I was on the verge of dying because of the harsh working conditions and lack of proper facilities for workers in Qatar. The day I landed in India, I got a new lease of life.”
In a letter obtained by Arab News, which is addressed to the Indian Embassy in Qatar and is circulating among people in the southern Indian state of Kerala, 650 expats have asked the embassy to rescue them.
“For the last four months, we are not getting enough food, water, electricity and salary,” said the letter, which was purportedly written last month.
It added that the HKH General Contracting Co. has not renewed laborers’ visas for nearly a year, so “we are not able to look for other options outside the company. We are not even able to purchase food items from shops.”
The company, which had been involved in construction for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, collapsed recently.
Dr. Mohammed Aleem, who deals with labor and community welfare at the Indian Embassy in Qatar, refused to comment when contacted by Arab News, saying he is not authorized to speak to the media about the issue. Ambassador P. Kumaran was not immediately available for comment.