Lured with a promise of nearly 1 lakh monthly salary for household jobs like mopping, as many as 31 men from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have been left to fend for themselves in Gulf countries, family members have now complained.

These men paid about Rs 1.2 lakh each to travel agents, suspected to be unauthories ones, and were sent to Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) about 11 months ago to do households jobs.

The family members, however, said these youths were neither given the promised work nor the salary. They are now penniless in a foreign land with no means to arrange food and shelter.

“My son Kuldeep (26) had a mobile repair shop. But he fell for the Rs 5.5 lakh the agent offered for a six-month job in Saudi Arabia.  So, without consulting me, my son left the country by paying Rs 1 lakh to the travel agent. But for the past 11 months, no payment was made to my son. Now they have no food and place to live,” Chander Bhan Kashyap (48), a resident of Kheda in Shahbad town of Kurukshetra district, told The Statesman over phone.

Another Shahbad resident, Isham Singh said his brother Rajbir Singh (35), a 10+2 pass, was also promised Rs 5.50 lakh in six months for a cleaning job. “We paid Rs 1.20 lakh to the travel agent for arranging the air ticket and visa. But my brother didn’t get a job or salary there. Rather I arranged 2000 Dirham (about Rs 35,500) to be sent to someone else’s bank account there to help my brother get food and a place to stay. But now even as his visa is about to expire, my brother and other Indians with him have been left to fend for themselves,” he said.

A resident of Chahal Khurd in SBS Nagar (Punjab), Joginder Pal has a similar story. “My two sons Harkrishan Chander and Prithi Pal went to Saudi Arabia about one year back and were promised Rs 2.5 lakh each for a job for six months. But they were not given any work or salary there even as I had to take loan for their travel. My elder son (Chander) left his newly married wife here. He is now without food or place to stay for about five days now,” he said. Joginder said his sons were with 11 others who too were facing same problem.

“I request the government to arrange their safe return. Once my sons are back, I will not let them go there again and tell the same to others,” he added.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s Punjab unit members led by Garhshankar MLA Jai Kishan have submitted a list of 31 Indians trapped in UAE and Saudi Arabia to the Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and requested her to take steps to bring them home. This list includes the above cases, besides others from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pardesh.

Illegal immigration from India, and illegal detention in Arab nations are common, with mushrooming fake travel agents adding to the problem. Unemployed youth mostly fall prey to such agents in their desperation to earn a livelihood.

“Action should be taken against such travel agents,” said MLA Jai Kishan.