An Indian woman, who went missing 20 years ago after a recruitment agent in Mumbai promised her a job in Dubai but trafficked her to Pakistan, has been found with the help of a video on social media and is appealing to the Indian government to help her reunite with her family.
Waliullah Maroof, who is an imam of a mosque in Karachi, said the Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad have contacted him and wanted to meet Hamidi Begum to send her back to Mumbai.
“She is desperate to go home and reunite with her family as she now lives in Karachi with her stepson,” Maroof told PTI.
Hamidi said in an emotional voice on call that she had not seen her children and family for 20 years and wanted to hug them.
“I was able to speak to my daughter and granddaughter on video call but I want to meet them in person,” she said.
Hamidi, who worked as a cook in Qatar, was promised a job in Dubai in 2002 by a recruitment agent in Mumbai. The agent duped her and trafficked her to Karachi.
From Karachi, she was taken to Hyderabad in Pakistan’s Sindh province where she was locked up for three months. After her release, she married a Pakistani widower with a son.
According to Maroof, the Indian woman’s Pakistani husband passed away three years ago. He had moved into the neighbourhood in Karachi from Hyderabad 14 years ago.
“I knew there was a problem with this lady because she always looked worried. When she told me her story, I decided to help her out by posting her video and story on YouTube from where luckily the Indian journalist named Khalfan Shaikh saw it and contacted me,” he said.
Maroof has used his social media accounts to also help women from Bangladesh who had been trafficked into Pakistan find their families.
He said those women, like Hamidi, are illiterate and financially poor and it becomes difficult for them to find work in Pakistan.
“They just accept their fate and live their lives but Hamidi wanted to reunite with her family. She also remembered her Mumbai address and the name of her children and when we arranged the video call with her daughter Yasmin Sheikh it was a very emotional moment for all of us,” Maroof said.
Hamidi regularly called her family while living abroad in Qatar and Riyadh. After 2002, when the agent tricked her after she paid her Rs 20,000, she lost contact with family members as she was locked up in a room and had no money.
Her daughter Yasmin said that her mother would call them regularly when she lived abroad. The family waited for months for a phone call after Hamidi left home in 2002 and finally approached the agent who had organised the trip.
“She told us that our mother was well and didn’t want to speak with us. We kept returning to ask questions about our mother, and then she [the agent] suddenly vanished,” Yasmin said.
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