South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights


KATHMANDU, Nov 30: For Archana Shrestha of Darjeeling, returning from Qatar to Nepal was an end of torture at the hands of her master in the Gulf country and a beginning of new life she so much yearned for.

It was a moment of surprise for the 27-year-old Indian national when the Nepali Embassy in Qatar arranged her return to Nepal. With her new-found “freedom” she had a feeling that her ordeals were over. But her fate took a sudden u-turn when she got caught at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Monday.

“I was utterly devastated when the security at TIA caught me for using fake passport,” Archana Shrestha told Republica.

Before leaving for Qatar in July 4, 2011, Archana was sent to Kuwait in 2010 by one Gautam Lama on a working visa acquired using a fake Nepali passport. “I wanted to complain to the police the day I was given the fake passport in the name of Aruna Shrestha, but I was made to fly to Kuwait the very next day,” she said. She worked as a helper in Kuwait for 10 months and came back.

“Lama again came to Darjeeling and offered me a job in Qatar. I paid him Rs 80,000 for passport and ticket though he said everything was for free,” Shrestha moaned. “I was promised the same kind of job in Qatar, but, once there, I had to clean bathrooms, wash dishes and do all other household chores.”

“When I came to know that I had a stone in my kidney, I wanted to come back from Qatar,” said a mother of two-a 6-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. She said her employers punished her badly when she told them about quitting the job. “They took me to the same place from where I was picked the first time I arrived in Qatar and gave me electric shocks.”

When this scribe met her, the ordeals she must have gone through were quite apparent. Archana’s mehendi-painted palms, thin legs and skinny body were shivering in such a way that couldn’t be put into words. Tears rolling down her bony cheeks spoke of her pain while loneliness stared through her dark-circled eyes. Her pant hung below her waist and she looked as if she hadn’t eaten for months.
“Somehow I managed to escape and go to the Nepal Embassy in Qatar and asked for help,” she said in a tearful voice.

Shrestha revealed that her masters had paid 7,000 Riyal (Rs 154000) to the agent. “I just got Rs 7,500 Indian currency as salary and I wasn’t in a condition to work because the stone in my kidney started hurting badly,” she said.

Though Archana succeeded to flee from the clutches of her cruel masters, her fate still hangs in balance. Director General at the Department of Immigration (DoI), Sudhir Kumar Shah said, “We had to admit her to the hospital on humanitarian grounds. But once she recovers, we will remand her in judicial custody as she has to undergo trial for violating laws.”

If found guilty under the passport law, Archana faces a punishment of up to five years in prison or Rs 50,000 in fine or both.
“The department will also initiate the process to nab the agent if she can help us identify the culprit,” Shah said.

Source: – 1/12/2011