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West Bengal: 27 Indians return from Iraq jobless, hounded by moneylenders

Jul 15, 2014 09:53 AM IST India India
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Nadia: The Iraq war has hit India. Even as 39 Indians remain in captivity in Mosul, thousands are hoping to come home. But heavily in debt, many of them are worried about what they're returning to. Twenty-seven men have returned to West Bengal's Nadia - jobless and being hounded by moneylenders.

It was a dream of a good life where his family will have a pucca house and their own land for 20-year-old Shabidul Mondal. He left his home in Nadia to go to Iraq to live that dream. But what happened after was nothing short of a nightmare. He was tortured, intimidated and exploited for 6 months and even his passport was seized in an an alien city with a language he could not understand.

"They took away our passport as soon as we landed. We were given food once a day and salary once in two months. 25 of us were cramped in a tiny room. The employers would beat us if we ever took breaks," Mondal claimed.

They finally escaped after the Indian government intervened. Forty-four-year-old Samadhi Mondal has been doing odd jobs to make ends meet and feed his family of eight. The trauma of the country in conflict still remains fresh in his mind. "There were bullets everywhere and bombs exploding at every corner. I will die of hunger than going back to work there," Samadhi said.

Jamir Mondal has a similar story to tell. He said Iraq is a closed chapter after he was duped by a rogue agent who forced him to take a huge loan for a job. The agent is on the run and the money is lost forever.

"We are trapped. We lost from both sides. The employers did not pay us saying they paid for our visa and tickets even though we paid the agents for them. The agents here have all fled. The money is gone, we have no salary but the money lenders want their money back. But we don't know how to pay them back," Jamir said.

So far the Bengal government hasn't promised any rehabilitation measures for the 25 men from Bengal who have returned after a traumatic journey from Iraq. For the men facing an uncertain future with very little qualification for a job, it's back to poverty once again, but this time with a mounting debt that they cannot escape.

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