He was disturbed and then I got a call that he had died by suicide says Sucharita.

Mihir Vasavda tracks down the families of nine Indians who died in Qatar while working on projects or in jobs linked to the World Cup, which starts on November 20. They shared stories of loss, broken dreams — and one complaint: “We haven’t received any compensation”

‘He said will return once debts cleared’

Rajendra Prabhu Mandaloji (40)
Home: Muthyampet, Telangana
Occupation: Carpenter
Left for Qatar: 2016
Employer: N/A
Salary: 1,000 riyal (Rs 23,000 approx at current rate)
Death: Sept 29, 2019; suicide
Compensation: No

rajendra

BEFORE HE left for Doha, a debt-laden Mandaloji was promised a monthly salary of 2,500 Qatari riyal, approximately Rs 55,000 at the time. However, his wife Sucharita says he realised something was amiss the moment he landed at Doha airport and found there was no one to receive him or take him to his accommodation. Later, a new contract was presented to him, Sucharita says, which said he’d be paid a mere 1,000 riyal for the same work.

Because of this — what’s called “substitution of contract” — the name of Mandaloji’s employers could not be ascertained.

For Mandaloji, this was a huge setback since he hoped to repay the lakhs of rupees he owed the lenders with the money earned in Qatar, Sucharita says. “He was very upset but there was no other option since he did not have any job opportunities here,” Sucharita says. “He kept blaming fate, and promised he’ll return immediately once all the debts were cleared.”

WhatsApp Image 2022 10 19 at 10.10.01 PM

Tough working conditions, poor wages and financial pressure “disturbed him mentally”, Sucharita adds. “And then, I got a call from one of his roommates that he had died by suicide.” “After he died, his employers asked us to pay Rs 5 lakh to send his body. Ultimately, the (Indian) embassy intervened and sorted out the issue,” she says.

Ten days later, Rajendra’s body was brought to Muthyampet in Telangana’s Jagtial district along with his back wages, amounting to Rs 30,000. Sucharita now works as a tailor in her village to support her seven-year-old daughter, and pay off the debts.

‘Dreams have been shattered’

Kalladis son at their under construction family home. 1 Kalladi’s son at their under-construction family home.

Ramesh Kalladi (49)
Home: Velmal, Telangana
Occupation: Driver
Left for Qatar: 2010
Employer: Boom International
Salary: 1,300 riyal (Rs 29,000 approx at current rate)
Death: Aug 10, 2016; heart failure
Compensation: No

ramesh

In 2010, Kalladi left behind his wife, three sons and a daughter-in-law and moved to Qatar, where he got work as a pick-up truck driver. His son Sravan says Kalladi “supplied material for the construction of the road that led to the World Cup stadium in Al Rayyan”.

With the money he earned, and by borrowing some more, Kalladi began construction of a house in his village. However, his health deteriorated over a period and on August 10, 2016, he suffered a cardiac arrest and died in his room at a labour camp in Sanaya.

Kalladi’s untimely death sent his family into a spiral of poverty and debt. The construction of the house had to be stopped mid-way. Soon after, Sravan, who worked in Doha with his father, was forced to return after his wife had a miscarriage.

Once back, Sravan borrowed more money to buy a car and use it as a cab. But that was confiscated by lenders after he failed to repay the loan installments.

“The road’s done, the stadium has been built but our dreams and lives have been shattered,” says Sravan, who now writes and sings folk songs — most of them on the plight of Indian workers in the Gulf.

Sole bread-earners, 2 plumbers buried under debris

Family members of Jagan and Akhilesh say they havent received compensation. Family members of Jagan and Akhilesh say they haven’t received compensation.

Jagan Surukanti (32), Akhilesh Kumar (22)
Home: Chittapur, Telangana; Sallahpur, Bihar
Occupation: Plumbers
Left for Qatar: 2019
Employer: Al Bawakir
Salaries: 1,200 riyal (Rs 27,000 approx at current rate)
Death: October 3, 2021; traumatic asphyxia due to earth fall
Compensation: No

jagan

ON THE morning of October 3, 2021, before he left the labour camp for his worksite near Lusail Marina, Jagan Surukanti rang his family back home in Telangana. Like he did every day, the 32-year-old plumber heard the voice of his two-year-old son Rishwant, whom he had never met, spoke to his mother and wife. “Before hanging up, he promised as usual to call after his shift was over,” Jagan’s father, Rajareddy, says. Around the same time, Akhilesh Kumar, 22, made a similar call to his wife Savita in Bihar’s Siwan. “He was in a rush, and said he’d call again later in the day,” Savita says.

The two families never received the phone calls – hours later, Jagan and Kumar died.

akhilesh

A certificate issued by Qatar’s Public Health Department noted the official reason for Jagan’s death as “traumatic asphyxia due to earth fall”. Sole breadwinners of their families, Jagan leaves behind his wife, two children, mother and father while Kumar is survived by his wife, a daughter and parents.

The duo was a part of a team of workers that was laying an underground drainage pipe at the site at Lusail Marina, 6 km from the stadium that will host the final on December 18. On October 3, 2021, a co-worker said, Jagan and Kumar jumped into a deep hole to fit a pipe when there was a landfall. “Both of them got trapped under the debris and died at the site,” the co-worker says, requesting anonymity since he is still working in Doha. Savita learnt about the death from a friend, who was informed by an acquaintance in Qatar. “My world collapsed when I heard the news,” Savita says.

The families say they had to wait for 25 days to receive the bodies. Now, they are jointly fighting a case in Qatar through activists and lawyers, seeking compensation.

‘Got no proper explanation’

Family says Abdul had no health issues. Family says Abdul had no health issues.

Abdul Majid (56)
Home: Dharpally, Telangana
Occupation: Heavy vehicle driver
Left for Qatar: 2014
Employer: Trey Trading Company
Salary: 3,000 riyal (Rs 68,000 approx at current rate)
Death: July 14, 2020; sepsis unspecified stroke not specified as haemorrhage or chronic kidney disease
Compensation: No

abdul

FOR YEARS, Majid drove heavy vehicles in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In 2014, he moved to Qatar with a better job offer. In Doha, he ferried labourers from all over the world to various construction sites across the city, including World Cup stadiums, in his bus. “When the football World Cup got sanctioned, they had a requirement of drivers and workers in Qatar,” Majid’s youngest of three sons, 24-year-old Ashique, says.

The family members claim Majid did not have any health issues except “high sugar”. So, it came as a shock when they received a call from Majid’s supervisor at the accommodation site to inform them about the death. They did not receive any communication or compensation, except two months’ wages, amounting to approximately Rs 1,25,000.

“It’s been two years but still we haven’t got proper explanation,” his wife Samina Begum, 55, says.

‘We have nothing to lose’

Hardaljit Singh (25)
Home: Kapurthala, Punjab
Occupation: Driver
Left for Qatar: 2014
Employer: Urbacon Contracting & Trading
Salary: 2,500 riyal (Rs 57,000 approx at current rate)
Death: June 4, 2015; multiple injuries in road accident
Compensation: No. Received insurance payout, ` 34 lakh.

Hardaljit Singh

IN LATE 2014, Hardaljit Singh decided to leave Dubai and move to Doha after he got a better job offer. Although the nature of his work, driving a bus, did not change, Hardaljit was able to capitalise on an employment boom in Qatar and earn `60,000 roughly for driving labourers to and from the work sites, including the stadiums for the World Cup.

One evening, while returning home after work, Hardaljit met with an accident. He suffered multiple fractures and died days later. The family got to know about his death only five or six days later, Harkirat says, and had to wait for almost a month to receive the body. “That was possible only because an acquaintance from Punjab was able to collect enough money to transport the body. Hardal’s employers did not help at all,” Harkirat says.

His death sent the family into a multitude of problems. Hardaljit’s father had died in a similar manner – a road accident – in Punjab when he was still very young. And a couple of years after his death, Harkirat, 28, was diagnosed with a severe heart condition for which he had to undergo a surgery. “During this period, the insurance money was God sent but since it helped us pass a tough phase,” Harkirat says.

‘Died suddenly, had no health problems’

Madhus wife is now a beedi roller son a labourer Madhu’s wife is now a beedi roller, son a labourer.

Madhu Bollapally (43)
Home: Mendora, Telangana
Occupation: Cleaner
Left for Qatar: 2013
Employer: SAK Trading & Contracting Co.
Salary: 1,200 riyal (Rs 27,000 approx at current rate)
Death: November 17, 2019; heart failure due to natural causes
Compensation: No

madhu

IN A tiny, dimly lit room that has no windows, Rajesh Bollapally flips through a file seeking answers to questions that have been haunting him for the last three years. In 2013, his father Madhu moved to Qatar to provide a better future for his family. Rajesh was 13 years old at the time. He never saw his father again. In 2019, Bollapally returned home in a coffin.

Like most, Bollapally went to Qatar because of financial distress. Every quarter, he would send some money home for his wife Latha and son.

One night in November 2019, Rajesh says his father’s roommate returned to the accommodation site when he saw Bollapally on the floor. He was rushed to a hospital, where he was declared dead. A week later, his body reached the village along with outstanding wages, amounting to Rs 27,000.

Now, Madhu’s wife Latha works as a beedi roller while Rajesh is a labourer. “He had no health problems but still he died so suddenly,” Rajesh says.

‘No source of income’

Padam Shekar (25)
Home: Gopulapur, Telangana
Occupation: Delivery boy
Left for Qatar: 2022
Employer: Talabat
Salary: 1,300 riyal (Rs 29,000 approx at current rate)
Death: September 6, 2022; road accident
Compensation: No

ON APRIL 27, 2022, Shekar sat on a flight to Doha, excited to start a new chapter. After working as a labourer on the farms in his village, Shekar had got a job for the first time in his life, even if it meant leaving behind his wife, 21-year-old Akhila, and one-year-old daughter behind. “There was no source of income for the family and in April, he got a job as a delivery boy with a company in Qatar called Talabat,” Shekar’s sister-in-law Aruna says.

Talabat is an online food ordering company that is the official sponsor of the Qatar Football Association, the Qatar national team for the World Cup and has the world’s biggest superstar Cristiano Ronaldo as its brand ambassador.

Weeks after clearing his three-month training period, Shekar was on a two-wheeler, delivering an order, when he got hit by a car from behind. The accident, Aruna says, took place on August 27 and a week later, he died. “When he left, all of us were happy because we thought it would change the family’s life,” Aruna says. “Their life has changed, just not the way we imagined.”

‘Worried about two children’

Wife Sujata still searching for answers about her husbands death. Wife Sujata still searching for answers about her husband’s death.

Chinna Ramoji Rada (40)
Home: Dabba, Telangana
Occupation: Cleaner
Left for Qatar: 2014
Employer: The Diplomatic Club
Salary: 700 riyal (`16,000 approx at current rate)
Death: January 25, 2021
Compensation: No. Got Rs 10 lakh from insurance taken in India

rada

THE SOUND of muffled wailing reverberates inside a tiny room as Sujata Ramoji, in between long pauses, recalls the day her husband decided to move to Qatar. “It was out of desperation,” she says. “We didn’t have any source of income here and had to raise two children.”

Ramoji got a job as a cleaner at a posh waterfront club in the Westbay region. He got paid roughly Rs 12,000 a month for an eight-hour shift and up to Rs 15,000 if he worked for up to 12 hours. His brother Purushottam says he was fit when he went to Qatar. Hence, the death baffles them, even though more than a year has passed since the incident. Ramoji, the family says, was waiting for his bus to return to his accommodation when he suffered a heart attack.

The family did not receive any compensation from the employers, but received Rs 10 lakh as a payout from an insurance policy he had taken in India. It’s given the family some immediate financial relief, but Sujata, 36, is worried about the future of her two children, 17-year-old daughter Soumya and 13-year-old son Sai Charan.



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