Unregulated placement agents providing human resources in Kashmir
Srinagar: The mushrooming of private placement agencies that work as a facilitator to provide human resources, especially domestic helpers across Kashmir, has caused concern and put these agencies under a radar.
Over the years, Kashmir has witnessed a mushrooming growth of these placement agencies but the government has failed to frame the guidelines and regulations for their functioning which has resulted in unchecked business of these companies.
There is no data available with the government to ascertain the number of these placement agencies working in Kashmir which are providing domestic help to the households here.
This has given a free hand to the agencies to fleece and dupe the consumers and also provide ill-treatment to the helpers deputed to the family.
The issue came to limelight after a domestic helper murdered a lady house hold in Lal Bazar area of Srinagar recently. The accused was later arrested by J&K Police on his way from Srinagar to Jammu.
The police stated that the family had hired a domestic helper Om Prakash Saha resident of Tatulivillage,Uttarakhand from an agency on a contract for a year.
Following the incident, questions are being raised over the regulation of the private placement agencies and the verification of the domestic helpers provided by these companies.
Amid no regulation and control of the competent authorities over these placement agencies, consumers complain of getting duped by these companies.
“I was provided a helper by a company against which I paid the required amount in two installments. The domestic help stayed at our home only for a week and later got absconding,” said Majid, a resident of Srinagar.
After the domestic help went absconding, the owner of the placement agency has made the family run from pillar to post to get a replacement or to get the refund of the amount paid earlier.
“I paid Rs 22000 to the agency which he is not agreeing to refund now and he did not arrange any replacement for it,” Majid said.
The consumers by and large complain that these agencies do not work properly and handpick these helpers randomly from outside without any verification and fulfilling other formalities.
“It is strange that these agencies are allowed to operate without regulations as the government has no control on their operation here,” said Maqbool Ahmad, a resident of Hyderpora.
Besides duping the consumers, complaints also pour in against these placement agencies for not treating the domestic help properly at their centers.
“They are not paid a good amount and are also kept in shabby conditions till they are sent to any family,” he said.
Several people availing the services of the placement agencies say “there is no regulation on the price fixed by the placement agency for providing any domestic help”. “As a result, they randomly charge money from families” he said.
“The government should regulate the price charged by these agencies and also monitor their functioning as well,” Maqbool said.
When contacted, Commissioner Secretary to Government in Labour and Employment Department, Sarita Chauhan said the role of the department was to regulate the employer (placement agency) to protect the interest of the employed (domestic labour).
“But we advise all the families to get the verification of the helper or labourer done with the local police station so that he or she doesn’t play any fraud any time,” Chauhan said.
She said the Labour Department was primarily for the protection of the rights of the labourers.
“But it is the domain of the police to verify the credentials of the domestic help hired by the families,” Chauhan said.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole said the private placement agencies are registered by the Labor Department and there is no need to have a separate department to deal with any sort of cheating done by these agencies.
“If any agency fails to fulfill the commitment after taking the advance payment, such cases can be dealt with as regular cases by the local police. There is no separate department for it,” he said.
A senior police officer meanwhile said any family or firm which hires any laborer of domestic help from any registered or unregistered agency has to get the credentials of the helper verified by the police.
“We continuously appeal to people in public Darbars or convey concerned mohalla committees to get the verification of their tenants and helpers done by the police so that veracity remains there,” he said.
About the cheating and duping by the placement agency, he said the household or any firm owner can get his case registered in the local police station.
“If anyone is cheated he can approach the local police station and get justice,” he said.