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Story of two stranded/cheated boys at Beirut Airport

Kiritnama - 5

· English

This is an experience/example. I feel we all must know/understand and learn a lesson how our young children are cheated in the name of providing/getting jobs, offshore jobs of merchant navy ,ship, cruise.

On 6thAugust 2019, I had taken a late night flight from Delhi to Mumbai. When I arrived, got down at Mumbai Airport in the late night of 6th August (7thAugust early morning) I saw a WhatsApp message from Shri Vijay Somaiya which read as:

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  • It says, his son Kush Somaiya along with one Shri Brijesh Rai is stranded at Beirut (Lebanon) Airport.
  • When I contacted Shri Vijay Somaiya, the details which I go from him were shocking.
  • Kush along with Brijesh was sent by a New Mumbai so-called merchant navy agent for a shipping job, the ship was supposed to be taken from Beirut.
  • Both Kush and Brijesh arrived Beirut Airport from Mumbai in the early morning of 4th August, 2019.
  • They were held up/detain by Lebanon Police at Beirut Airport.  As there was no communication available,  Vijay  was very much worried for his son.
  • After establishing communication with various officials at Indian Embassy in Lebanon, External Affairs Ministry, the Special Department at Mumbai Videsh Sanchar Nigam’s office of BKC, former External Affairs Secretary,  Shri Dnyaneshwar Mulay, Shri  J K Sao, the  Immigration Officer, External Affairs Ministry, Mumbai  and one of my friends Shri Sanjay Parashar, who is an active in Merchant Navy Association,  the information collected was shocking.

The response received from Indian Embassy, Lebanon and concerned officers of the Indian Embassy are as under-

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Response from the officer of Indian Embassy Mr. Sashi Kumar

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I would certainly appreciate the promptness and sambedansilta of Shri J K Saoo, the Immigration Officer of External Affairs Ministry having office at BKC Mumbai. He responded to me –

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  • Actually both Kush and Brijesh were cheated by the New Mumbai Merchant Navy agent.
  • Shri Gurmit(SMTF)had/is in the business of luring the youngsters giving attractive offer to them that they will be given training in scientific manner for six months and for which they have to  pay a couple of lakhs of rupees.
  • The impression is given that the Institute is recognized by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India.
  • They also give the guarantee to their students that immediately they would be given job on the completion of the six months course.
  • The parents of Kush and Brijesh have paid couple of lakhs for such training.  They were offered job and they were sent to Beirut by Shri GurmitSing (SMTF)that they would be received at Beirut Airport by the local agent and shall be taken to the ship.
  • They had been given offer/contract of nine months job on the ship.
  • For that Shri Gurmit and his colleague have also taken couple of lakhs rupees illegally.

While going into the details of this whole issue and after discussion with various authorities, experts and officials, I observed that such type of rackets is going on for months/years together. Youngsters are cheated, couple of rupees are pocketed, and they are left at the mercy of the local foreign agent or sometime in the hands of the senior officials owner of the ship, anytime they left out without job in such foreign countries.

  • In the case of Kush Somaiya, it was similar experience.
  • Whey Kush arrived at Beirut, no local agent was available there.
  • They had been given only 24 hours temporary transit visa by Shri Gurmit.
  • When Kush and his colleague were trying to establish contact with Gurmit over phone, he was unreachable.
  • The telecommunication system, the Wi-Fi signals were not appropriate or available at Beirut airport.
  • Both the youngsters are hardly 18+ years old and they found themselves in horrible situation.
  • As the 24 hours visa expired, the Beirut Immigration/local police took them in informal custody.
  • It was just only luck that Kush took the help of a passerby passenger, used his mobile’s (hotspot connection,) and passed a WhatsApp message to his father Shri Vijay Somaiya in Mumbai about their horrible situation.
  • Shri Vijay Somaiya contacted me and inform about the young boys were stranded at Beirut Airport for 3 days.

I informed Vijay that the contacts are established with people

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  • With the help of several officials and good people in the system/society we were able to establish contact with Indian Embassy, Beirut.
  • The Indian Embassy officials became proactive, established contact with Kush and Brijesh.
  • The Protector of Immigrants, Mumbai has also informed me that they are following the issue.

Shri Sanjay Parashar was also in touch with all these officials and informed me -

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Dr. Nand Kumar, Deputy Secretary, Office of Minister of State, External Affairs (Shri V. Muraleedharan) also helped us to bring Kush and Brajesh back to Mumbai.

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Indian Embassy Beirut sent a detail report

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Of course after struggling for four days Kush reached home on 8th August late night.

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The Indain Consulate at Lebanon twitted

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I have taken up the issue with various authorities to see such non-transparent export of services for merchant shipping, sending the youngsters for job the ships job needs protection and improvement in the system. The execution of proper guidelines is must.

  1. Dozens of such type of illegal agents are pocketing lakhs of rupees from such youngsters who wish to go for merchant navy job on ship. 
  2. Initially they take lakhs of rupees in the name of training.
  3. The youngsters and parents should check that merchant navy training institute is recognized by the Shipping Ministry, Government of India.
  4.  After receiving the training, proper certificate is must to get such merchant navy job in foreign ship.
  5. Only the legal authorized agents are given authority to employ such youngsters from India and send them abroad for service on ship/cruise.
  6. The parents must be vigilant to see that the agents who are offering job are legally recognized agent by the Shipping Ministry, the External Affairs Ministry and the ,V.R Marine Time Services-Shipping, Defense & Power of association.
  7. Proper visas are obtained; the local receiving agents at the foreign airport/seaport should be verified.
  8. The youngsters who are going for the job should be given proper training, briefing, all the contacts of local agents and also Indian Embassy officials and the officials in India. 
  9. Lots of opportunity for merchant navy job is attractive.
  10. The Government should also support such youngsters because it is a good opportunity for India for export of such services.
  11.  Indian youngsters in such merchant shipping jobs on the cruise, ships have good reputation and are in demand also.
  12. We must encourage but also take appropriate measures, caution that they are not being trapped; they are going through proper official channel.

Yes, the passerby passenger at Beirut Airport who provided hotspot/Wifi WhatsApp services to Kush Somaiya resulted into the communication to his parents and such persons in India saved the future/life of Kush and Brajesh.

Let us establish a healthy system for bright future of youngsters joining merchant navy, ship, cruise, etc. - Kirit Somaiya