By BEGENA GEORGE Published: 5th October 2006

A RUNAWAY maid fighting for two years unpaid wages is stranded in Bahrain, unaware that her father has died back home.

Indian Sangeetha Shankar Gaunkar, aged 21, is being treated for depression, so has not yet been told her father has died, says the Migrant Workers' Protection Society.

She has filed a case against her Bahraini sponsor, but he has been ignoring summonses from the Labour Ministry, says the MWPS.

He has also ignored all attempts by the society and Indian Embassy to contact him, despite earlier agreeing to pay part of the money, MWPS action committee head Marietta Dias said yesterday.

She said Ms Gaunkar's agent in India had informed the MWPS that her father had died.

Ms Gaunkar ran away from her sponsor to seek help from the embassy on August 11, the same day her sponsor told her that he would be sending her home within 48 hours.

The sponsor allegedly promised to pay her the wages he owed her at the airport.

The MWPS is sheltering Ms Gaunkar at the request of the embassy, until the issue is resolved.

"We are trying to work an out-of-court deal with the sponsor in order to resolve the issue soon and send the girl home with her money," said Mrs Dias.

"But the sponsor does not seem to care to even return our calls."

"The first time we called him, two months ago, he promised to pay BD500 out of the BD880 he owes, plus an air ticket to her destination.

"But Ms Gaunkar refused the offer, asking to be paid the full amount for which she worked.

"The sponsor then asked for a few more days to think about this issue.

"Since then, he has neither contacted us, nor bothered to answer our calls.

"A woman with whom we were in touch initially claiming to be his lawyer, also seems to have disappeared.

"We were then able to contact a man, who works for a local Arabic newspaper, a friend of the sponsor, who promised to talk to him and try convince him.

"But his attempts seem to be in vain so far, because though the sponsor first agreed to pay the whole amount to the friend, he later began avoiding his calls too.

"The condition of Ms Gaunkar is pathetic and she's going through a depression now, undergoing treatment for it.

"She also still hasn't been informed of her father's death back home in Goa."

Ms Gaunkar and had been working as a maid at the sponsor's house in Riffa since September 2002 and should have been paid BD40 a month.

She told the GDN earlier that her wages were often delayed, but that she had not been paid a single fils for 22 months.

Ms Gaunkar said she left behind all her belongings and some gold at the sponsor's home.

She was spotted by some passer-bys who took her to the Indian Embassy.

She said she did not want to go back home without her full dues as she spent Rs15,000 (BD140) for the visa and worked extremely hard all these years at the sponsor's house.

A case was filed at the ministry on August 15.

© Gulf Daily News