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April 27, 2018

FIR filed against Hyderabad-based O2 Skills, Agency denies allegations

Shillong : As the cases of forced labour and exploitation is making headlines almost every day, another case has surfaced involving a reputed training centre with its base in Hyderabad – O2 Skills Academy where a 19 year girl from Nongstoin in Meghalaya was allegedly prevented from leaving the institute after she refused to be part of the massaging training even as she alleged that she was cheated it and made to believe that they offer beautician course when in reality, she was trained in Spa management.

According to the FIR filed by the Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) on July 22 in Shillong, the girl who belongs to a poor family in West Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya was informed about the free training in beauty and hair dressing through newspapers. The 19 year girl registered for the free course in the month of June, the training of which was given in its training centre at Hyderabad.

A month into the training session, the girl alleged that she was cheated as she was made to train in massaging and spa management when she had actually applied for beautician and when she wanted to leave the centre, she was asked to pay an amount of Rs 20, 000, failing of which she will not be allowed to leave.

Earlier, Delhi Joint Commissioner of Police, Robin Hibu had issued a distress call in this regard and mentioned that the girl expressed fear and hopelessness while disclosing that her employers threaten to whoever speaks about leaving the company.

Meghalaya woman subjected to forced labour at Telengana based company; Police issue distress message.

The FIR further stated that the company had falsely advertised in local newspapers as the same is not as what it seems. When she initially contacted the numbers provided in the advertisement for the job, she was taken to Guwahati then Hyderabad last month, where she found out that the job profile was not as what was advertised in the papers.

A day after the case was filed, the girl was immediately flown in from Hyderabad and arrived Guwahati on Monday where she was then escorted by Assam Police. Till the filing of this report, the girl is still at Azara Police Station in Guwahati.

“The girl is still with us and we are still waiting for the Meghalaya police to take her back home,” Azara PS OC Ashok Dutta told TNT – The Northeast Today though he refused to comment any further on the case.

O2 Skill is a training centre with its base in Telangana, which span across the Northeast India and has regional offices in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. It provides skill development training to the youth and also has a training centre for economically backward youth in 18-35 Years bracket.

According to the description provided in its website, O2 Skills provide employment-linked, market-oriented Vocational Training to the youth, over several vocational courses, curriculum approved by Govt. of India Technical Training, combined with soft skills, On-the-job Training and Work Readiness Training. It has four basic course – beauty and hair dressing, spa and wellness management, house-keeping and food and beverages.

“Seems there are young girls from rural villages in Meghalaya and other parts of Northeast India who are trapped by this skill providing agency called O2 Skill private Limited that has earlier signed deals with the Employment and Craftsmen and Labour Department, Government of Meghalaya,” the FIR copy read.

“This is clear cheating, confinement to exploit and extortion and also amounts to trafficking of vulnerable rural girls for cheap labour and sexual exploitation,” CSWO president Agnes Kharshiing said.

Meanwhile, when contacted, consultant at the regional office of O2 Skill Pvt Ltd in Shillong Ruberine Mawthoh denied these allegations stating that before a candidate joins the centre, they were made aware of all the four courses adding that the question of forced labour in spa management doesn’t arise since the company deals into this aspect.

When asked about the Rs 20,000 demand made by the management, Mawthoh said that this is the policy of the company. “Whenever a candidate joins the centre, they were explained of the terms and condition. It was made very clear that if they leave the company prior to the completion of the term, they will have to pay certain amount as compensation,” she said.

When apprised that the course was free of cost as advertised in the local papers, the O2 Skills consultant said “The free course was meant for one month that is for the month of July. The course is free. The candidates were asked to fill in some amount like transportation and hostel facilities and a bond was agreed that if they leave they have to pay the compensation amount.”

Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.

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