By Katie McQueJanuary 14, 2022 at 3:00 a.m. EST
DUBAI — Iranian shipping companies in league with international recruiting firms have been forcing large numbers of Indian seafarers to work in dangerous conditions, often with little or no pay, according to more than two dozen men who say they were tricked into taking this employment.
Thousands of Indian men are lured to Iran each year by recruiters guaranteeing salaries and experience aboard reputable ships and often promising assignments in other Middle Eastern countries, say Indian seafarers and maritime activists. Instead, the seafarers say, they are sent to Iran and put to sea, where they are overworked, denied enough food and at times forced to transport drugs and cargo that is under international sanctions.
“They target seafarers for work without salary. It’s all a big trap,” said Ashkay Kumar, a 24-year-old deck cadet from Delhi who was among 26 Indian men interviewed about their experience with Iranian shipping. “They forced us to work like slaves.”