Wednesday, Sep 17, 2003
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By K. Manikandan
Earlier in the day, more than 150 persons lodged complaints with the Central Crime Branch, alleging that the agency had cheated them, promising them Gulf jobs. The complainants, who also surrendered their passports and other original documents, said they paid between Rs. 10,000 and 40,000 in cash to the International City Links on Triplicane High Road, near the Adam Market.
Speaking to The Hindu, the complainants said Mr.Yousuf had been absconding since Saturday evening, and they realised this fact only this morning.
C.S. Srinivasan, a client of the agency, said he had on August 12 attended a walk-in interview, on the basis of a newspaper advertisement, calling for skilled and unskilled professionals under a host of categories. The client, who had applied for secretary, said he was informed of his appointment soon after the interview. He also successfully went through a medical test at M.S.Clinic, Triplicane. Later, he paid Rs. 20,000 and surrendered the documents as required by the agency for processing the visa.
Most of the complainants were preparing for their first trip abroad and were caught off-guard.
Ramanathan, who applied for the job of cook, said he simply followed the agent's instructions. "I handed over my hard-earned savings of Rs. 30,000 to him".
Rashid, who hoped to get the job of an electrician, said he had sold his two-wheeler to pay Rs. 20,000 to the agent, while his elder brother, Mir Zafaruddin, pledged the jewels belonging to his wife, sister and mother to pay Rs. 35,000.
B. Masthan of the M.S.Clinic, where many of the complainants took the medical test, said it was authorised by the Gulf Countries Consortium to conduct the medical examination. He had been in the business for more than seven years now, he said.
Authorities in the city office of the Protector of Emigrants under the Ministry of Labour, said the manpower agency was registered with the POE in Kerala. Having their own doubts about the activities of the agency, POE personnel here referred the matter to the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia on September 1 but there was no response, they said and also appealed to some of the victims to approach the POE in Chennai with their complaints. A case under Section 420 IPC (cheating) was registered, CCB officials said.
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