22-03-2016

Palash Balsetwar’s dad paid Rs 3 lakh to dubious agent

Palash

With a dream in his mind and a mortgage loan of his house on his shoulders, Palash Balsetwar’s father Dutta Balsetwar paid lakhs to a dubious employment agent, hoping to secure a good job on a safe vessel for his son. His dreams are shattered today, as the agent is absconding now.

Palash (20), a deck cadet working for a private shipping company lost his life as his ship sank late on the night of March 15 near Iran. The ship is said to have tipped over while halting between the waters due to foggy weather. The ship had seven members onboard; all evacuated it successfully except Palash.

Speaking to The Asian Age, from Iran, Palash’s colleague, Harish Nandal, said, “We were able to jump out of the ship by taking a quick call, but Palash was busy watching a movie on his laptop and had no idea about the mishap. The fault is of the captain who overloaded the ship with cargo and later tried to halt the ship suddenly in middle water.”

According to Palash’s sister Payal, he had not cleared interviews with various shipping companies after which he approached an agency firm, as he was desperate to get a good job and earn money to buy back the gold jewellery their father had sold.

“First, at the time of his training from a private institute in Mumbai, I sold all my wife’s gold jewellery to obtain Rs 4 lakh, the amount required for his training. Later, at the time of finding a good job in Iran I had to mortgage my 850-square-foot house in Aurangabad for the sum of Rs 3 lakh at the interest rate of 14 per cent per annum,” said Mr Balsetwar.

In October last year Palash saw an advertisement in a local Aurangabad newspaper for placement on a vessel in Iran. “We approached the advertiser, Hemant, who asked Palash to meet him in Nashik. At the start Hemant did not ask for any money from Palash. Later, he gave the contact number and address of his business partner in Mumbai who later instructed him that he would have to pay him `3 lakh for the job. On December 22, 2015 I paid him Rs 1.5 lakh and the remaining amount after Palash reached Iran on December 25, 2015,” Mr Balsetwar said.

Meanwhile, Aurangabad police commissioner Amitesh Kumar has assured the family that the cops would trace the agents and book them for cheating. “I will book the agents under all relevant sections after looking into what laws have been bypassed by the agents in sending Palash to Iran,” said Mr Kumar.

The ministry of external affairs and Sushma Swaraj are in constant touch with the Indian High Commission, which is touch with the Iranian government. However, officials have not completed the formalities of sending back the body, citing that official work would only be carried out after April 4, 2016 which is when the Navroz holidays end.

Besides Palash’s body, other crewmates have also been stuck in Iran, as officials will need to record their statements when the investigation begins after the holidays.

Source: The Asian Age

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