Bangladeshis are being trafficked into Nepal, but most cases go unreportedThe Embassy of Bangladesh in Kathmandu receives two to three cases of labour trafficking every month.
Hussain came to Nepal from Bangladesh in October to work. His recruiting agents had promised him a job in a big carpet factory that would pay him Rs 50,000 a month. But when he arrived in Nepal, Hussain found himself working in a small carpet factory in Kathmandu and his pay was less than half of what was promised.
“I was paid only Rs 15,000 per month,” Hussain told the Post over the phone from Bangladesh. Hussain said he had paid 1 lakh taka, equivalent to roughly Rs 134,000, to the recruiting agents for the job.
The plight of people like Hussain fits a broad pattern of deception where many overseas Bangladeshi job seekers are being left stranded by unscrupulous recruiting agents. In 2016, the government of Bangladesh investigated 168 cases which were related to labour trafficking. According to a 2010 study conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 20.6 percent of Bangladeshi workers did not get the job specified at recruitment while 45.8 percent didn’t receive remuneration as specified.
According to Sara Moktan, public relations officer at the Embassy of Bangladesh in Kathmandu, the embassy receives at least two to three cases a month where the recruiters, a nexus of Bangladeshi and Nepali agents, dupe Bangladeshis by promising them well-paying jobs in Nepal.
“Like Hussain, there are Bangladeshis, who come to the embassy to ask for help after being deceived by their agents. Some may have valid tourist visas while others don’t,” said Moktan.
According to Hussain, when he was in Bangladesh, he met a person in his village, who gave him contacts of the agents named Sagar and Faruq. “They told me that Nepal has better job opportunity. I believed them,” he said.
Hussain, along with his friend Mollah, also tricked by the same agents, had sought help from the Embassy of Bangladesh in Kathmandu to return home.
Hussain and Mollah had entered Nepal on tourist visas, which made it easier for the embassy to book them tickets back home.
Those who come to Nepal via India often don’t have any travel documents, Moktan said. “The embassy prepares them the needed documents so that they can travel back to Bangladesh.”
Moktan confirmed that there are three to four similar cases where the agents named Sagar and Faruq were involved. “If the police get hold of these two people, we can know more about this nexus,” said Moktan.
When the Post got in touch with Faruq via mobile phone, he denied the allegation, saying he was in Dubai and abruptly hung up the phone. After a while, his phone was switched off.
Despite being duped by the recruiters, according to Moktan, not everyone comes to seek help at the embassy. Moktan believes that there are many Bangladeshis who continue to work illegally to save money since they have paid hefty sums to their agents.
Inspector Basanta Acharya at the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) said that cases such as that of Hussain’s and Salim’s are rarely filed. “This is human trafficking. To get into the depth of this issue, we need to get hold of the culprits. We will further investigate into this matter with the help of the Embassy of Bangladesh,” said Acharya.
Acharya further said that it is difficult to track the number of Bangladeshis illegally working in the country. However, he suspects that there may be hundreds of them.
“When we get the information related to people working illegally in Nepal, the police arrest them and hand them to the Department of Immigration,” said Acharya.
In 2017, police raided textile industries around the Thamel area and arrested 37 illegal Bangladeshi workers.
“There is a track record of nationals from Bangladesh illegally entering Nepal after the agents lured them with the promise for work using Nepali passports so that they can get around bans and quotas imposed by countries like Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia,” said Jeevan Baniya, assistant director of Centre for the Study of Labour and Mobility at Social Science Baha.
Baniya suspects that labour trafficking of Bangladeshis may exist on a large scale, since hundreds of Bangladeshis are said to be working illegally in businesses such as weaving, making carpets and crafting clothes around Kathmandu.
Bangladesh was the second country in terms of foreign nationals Nepal deported in the first five months of the current fiscal year. Out of 84 nationals deported by the Department of Immigration, 13 were Bangladeshis. One of the reasons for the deportation was overstaying of visa.