Indian workers in Afghanistan: a tale of misery


Thousands of Indian nationals are being employed as menial workers to serve the American soldiers living within the base camps in Afghanistan through fly-by-night operations undertaken by contractors hired by the US army, sources say.
Performing the jobs of cooks, sweepers, laundrymen and barbers to maintain the US military personnel, these Indians are hired on promises of exorbitant remunerations but come face-to-face with the stark reality once they land within the barbed-wired compounds of US camps and are forced to survive in subhuman conditions.
These hapless individuals are enticed by the contractors working for the US army by promises of an opportunity to work in Dubai at salaries of $1,500 and beyond but once they land in Afghanistan, they are forced to work on $350 or even less.
Transfer from Dubai to Afghanistan is carried out in US military or chartered private planes without any immigration formality or endorsement of entry/exit entries in their travel documents – a gross violation of the international travel laws.
Upon completion of the contract period, these individuals return home through Dubai without documenting their backward journey home.
During their hazardous stay at the US camps these Indians, called “third country nationals”, have to work up to 14 hours a day and are at the mercy of the US-approved contractors under severe conditions of “human rights abuse”.
Quartering and sanitation conditions are atrocious and a culture of exploitation reigns without an oversight by the US authorities.
There is no compensation for injury or death, many are robbed for their pay and are held in conditions that evoke similarities to servitude in slavery.
Poor treatment meted out to these generally underfed individuals has already resulted in riots in some of the US camps.
According to observers, it is complicity of the Indian and Afghan governments, who have closed their eyes towards this thinly-veiled practice of “US-sponsored human trafficking”, which is causing misery to thousands of Indian nationals illegally trapped in the US military camps in Afghanistan.