Runaway maid dupes officials By ANIQA HAIDER Published: 24th February 2008

POLICE are looking for a runaway housemaid who duped embassy officials and charity groups into believing she was a victim of abuse.

It is thought Indian Bindhu Mohanan may have been brought here by free-visa racketeers said to have forced some victims into prostitution.

The 31-year-old came to Bahrain on February 27 last year to work as a housemaid, but was reported missing to police by her Bahraini sponsor within 10 hours of her arrival.

Just a few days later, she approached and was sheltered and supported by the Bahrain Pathanapuram Association, then later by the Bahrain Punalur Association.

Ms Mohanan told Pathanapuram association president Babu Kurumbelil that she ran away as her sponsor beat her and had not paid her for two months.

Mr Kurumbelil took her case to the Indian Embassy, where a case was filed against her sponsor, Ahmed Abdulla.

"She totally fooled me, saying her sponsor beat her and hadn't paid her salary for the past two months," said Mr Kurumbelil.

"As an association, we try to help our community as much as we can.

"But she didn't tell us anything about herself and always cried, saying she wanted her passport from the sponsor, to go back home. "Later she approached Punalur association, which gave her BD300."

Both the associations highlighted Ms Mohanan's case when the Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi visited Bahrain in October last year.

Embassy officials, Mr Abdulla and Ms Mohanan had a meeting with Mr Ravi, Ambassador Balkrishna Shetty and officials from both associations, at the embassy.

Ms Mohanan repeated her claims at the meeting, but everyone was stunned when Mr Abdulla showed her true arrival date on her passport and a document showing the police case reference number and the date on which he reported her missing.

Ms Mohanan started crying and said she ran away because she wanted to work with an Indian family, said Mr Kurumbelil.

He said it was agreed between all parties that Ms Mohanan would leave the country, so Mr Abdulla could hire another housemaid to work for his family.

Ms Mohanan agreed to leave and said she would book the ticket herself and meet Mr Abdulla at the airport on the specified date - but has since vanished.

Mr Abdulla told the GDN that according to the Prepaid Ticket Advice number, the ticket was booked in Sharjah on December 3 to fly on December 26, and was sent to Ms Mohanan by one of her friends.

It is believed that Ms Mohanan came to Bahrain through racketeers who bring maids and labourers on free visas and false promises of high wages.

The group is allegedly run by a woman known only as Sawda and a man named Razzak - who recommended Ms Mohanan to Mr Abdulla.

It is thought the racketeers provided her with a visa after selecting her from a recruiting agency in Kerala, India.

Sources told the GDN that the group ships in under-skilled or non-skilled workers and sets them to jobs, which they cannot do.

Some are also forced to work as prostitutes, or low-paid housemaids and labourers, without being provided correct information about their sponsors, said the sources.

Mr Abdulla told the GDN that he selected Ms Mohanan on the recommendation of Razzak, who was a friend, but who has since failed to answer any of his calls.

"My wife is suffering from rheumatism and she is not able to do all the housework," said Mr Abdulla.

"My children are studying, so they can't help me or my wife with the housework.

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"My friend recommended her and I trusted his words.

"I brought her to my house from the airport and the next day she went missing.

"I reported to the police and after seven months saw her at the Indian Embassy.

"I don't have any information and I wonder how she is surviving in Bahrain without having any legal document or financial help.

"I believe some people are helping her and I want the Indian Embassy to help me deport her." Embassy officials confirmed the case, but would not comment further. aneeqa@gdn.com.bh

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