Muscat: An expatriate driver from the south Indian state of Kerala, who was forced to assist a human trafficking gang's operations along the Oman-UAE border in Buraimi, has sought shelter at the Indian embassy.
"I am afraid to work with them. I am afraid for my life. I paid around OMR800 to get a visa to work as a driver. When I had just landed, I came to learn that I had to transport people and do this risky and illegal job," Abdul Nasir, the driver, told Times of Oman.
According to Nasir, those migrants who cannot enter the UAE legally arrive in Oman on a visitor's visa and are then transported to the UAE through the Rouda and Wadi Jissi border check posts using forged UAE resident ID cards. They are also provided jobs in the UAE. Their passports, however, are taken from them and altered. Later, these passports are used by others who cannot legally fly out to India from the UAE. The migrants are brought to Oman through the same route, as well as taken from Oman. These people later fly back to India safely as if they are returning after a visit to Oman.
"When I was the driver for them, I witnessed at least 35 trafficking cases. Out of these, only four were caught at Indian airports," Nasir said.
"Around AED15,000 to AED40,000 is charged by the gang. Some of those who escape are mostly involved in criminal cases in the UAE," Nasir added.
Nasir came to Oman in June 2012 on a visa provided by Ashraf Paika, alias Camry Asharaf, who is now in Kerala. "The visa was issued by a national in Buraimi, who has no connection with this gang. When I reached Oman, I was engaged by Asharaf, who is also my relative, to transport people from Muscat International Airport to Buraimi and then to the Dubai border. I was afraid of doing this job and asked Asharaf to remove me from it after paying back the money I gave him for my visa. But he was reluctant to pay back the amount and asked me to quit if I was scared to continue. Then I quit the job and went back to India in September 2012," Nasir said.
According to Nasir, there are two Keralites and one Pakistani involved in the gang. "In December 2012, I came back to Oman on the same visa and told my sponsor the whole story. After hearing my story, my sponsor supported me in fighting against the illegal activity of this gang. So, as the first step, I have filed a complaint with the embassy against the gang," Nasir said, while adding that soon the gang members will be arrested.
Nasir has turned over forged passports and other documents to embassy officials. "They have assured me of action," he added.