FOREIGN EMPLOYMENT DISASTER: Software aid to identify Kuwait body – Passport misleads family – misleading recruiters, forged passports, unlicensed vendors, unescorted dead bodies, labour exploitation, innocent lives ruined – international criminal foreign employment syndicates need thorough CBI investigation ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Kalimpong, Sept. 6: The hill town today watched as a drama unfolded over the identification of a body that arrived from Kuwait with family members first refusing to accept it and police using a software on the dead youth’s photograph to help his kin identify him.
The coffin that arrived with the body of Buddha Sherpa this morning had a name tag, which said it was Ganesh Prasad Lamithami. Not only that, the body inside was that of a mystery man, or so the family claimed earlier in the day.
The police first unravelled the mystery of the body by taking a photograph of the face and using a software to remove the moustache and long hair. The family members on seeing the long hair and moustache had outright said the body was not that of 25-year-old Buddha, who had committed suicide in Kuwait on August 25. An investigating officer at the Sadar police station said a photograph of the dead youth was first taken and scanned at a local cyber café.
“We then removed the moustache and cropped the hair and it matched with the photo in the passport that was with the body. We again summoned the family. The father of the youth then made a positive identification as his son had scars on his left wrist and left calf,” the officer said.
Dawa Sherpa, a retired clerk from the subdivisional office here, admitted that he made a positive identification of his son’s body the second time. “I have told that in writing to the police,” Sherpa said before leaving the morgue of the Kalimpong Subdivisional Hospital.
Police sources then confirmed what Buddha’s elder sister Jongmu had told reporters earlier, solving the mystery of the name tag. Buddha had been sent to Kuwait to work in a farm on a Nepalese passport issued in the name of Ganesh Prasad Lamithami. “Our family had got in touch with a woman who promised to find a job for my brother overseas. When we paid her the necessary fees, my brother left home for Delhi on March 22. After waiting for almost two months, my brother was sent to Kuwait in June on a Nepalese passport issued in someone else’s name,” said Jongmu.
Mary Bhutia, the woman responsible for sending Buddha to Kuwait, is a resident of 15 Mile, which is not very far from the Sherpas’ home in Upper Echey, barely 2km from here. She, along with her husband based in Delhi and a daughter who has been staying in Kuwait for the past three years, supplies manpower to the Arab country.
“She has sent many young boys and girls to Kuwait,” said a police source. Buddha, Jongmu said, had wanted to return home because he was not happy with his work that required a lot of physical labour.
“That was the one and only time he had called us from Kuwait. Since then we have been telling the agent (Mary) to arrange for his return, but she always kept procrastinating. However, in the last week of August, we got a call from my brother’s friends in Kuwait, informing us that he had committed suicide,” she said.
When the family confronted the agent with the news, Mary readily agreed to get Sherpa’s body home. “The body was sent via Kathmandu. Mary herself had gone to Kathmandu to receive the body,” said Jongmu.
Another girl from Sherpa’s village, too, was sent to Kuwait on a Nepalese passport. Tripti Chhetri, who has since returned, told reporters that the Nepalese passport given to her was in the name of Bishnu Poudel.
Agents like Mary charge anything between Rs 50,000 and Rs 60,000 from their clients that include passport and visa charges. For the menial jobs they do in Kuwait, Indian labourers are paid about 300 dinars, which is around Rs 48,500, per month. But the salary is given at the end of their contract period which could be year-long or for two years.