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KARACHI, June 25: A thorough inquiry has been ordered into the affairs of all 45 registered agents indulged in the recruitment of seafarers following the unearthing of a racket to fleece jobseekers.

About 75 seafarers had been sent to Italy and Yemen by agents for ship crew jobs but many of them have since returned home and complained that they were defrauded.

“I was recruited for MV Bushier anchored at Aden port in Yemen. After reaching the country, it appeared that it was a small dead ship,” said Tahir Raza, 25, a resident of Sakhi Hassan, Karachi.

He revealed that he was among the 35 people who somehow managed to return home with the help of the Pakistani embassy in Yemen.

Talking to newsmen at the office of the federal Minister for Communication, Senator Ahmed Ali, here on Wednesday, Mr Tahir said that he had paid Rs150,000 to an agent registered with the local Mercantile Marine Department.

All the victims had completed legal formalities and signed the Article of Agreement for Employment of Seafarers with the shipping master, Habibullah Dar, who is also the principal officer of the Mercantile Marine Department, Ministry of Communication.

The minister ordered immediately suspension of the shipping master and initiation of an inquiry against him for ignoring the victims’ complaints.

Ordering the inquiry against the registered recruiting agents, the minister has sought the report to be completed within 15 days.

A sub-recruiting agent, Abdul Wahab, was arrested by the FIA a month ago on complaints by the parents of some of the victims, majority of whom belonged to Karachi and interior of Sindh.

Adam Panjri, secretary of the Pakistan Seamen’s Union, informed the minister that there were only five or six recruiting agencies working genuinely.—APP