Monday, 8 September 2014

8 Indian workers in Basra taken to undisclosed location

AMRITSAR: Panic has gripped the Indian workers of Iraq's Al-Saqr Al-Jareh construction company in Basra, after unidentified persons took away eight out of 52 workers to some undisclosed location on Sunday. These skilled Indian workers had downed their tools and stopped working since June 5th in protest against giving them labour jobs as against their expertise.

"Yesterday some people came to the factory compound and took away eight persons to some undisclosed place forcibly, we are already living in squalid conditions and now we are panicked and terrified," said Ramtirath, one of the worker while talking to TOI over phone from Basra. He informed that the mobile phone of all the eight persons were switched off and the management had not given them any clue about them.

These 52 Indian nationals had traveled to Iraq via an agent in December 2013 to work in a two-year-contract in the company that has been awarded a $245m contract from 'Basra Investment Commission' to build a housing project in Basra.

Ramtirath said since June, the management of the company had not given them their salaries and had also kept their passports.'' We all are trained in various fields including cutter, welder, drivers etc but we were asked to do labour jobs which is a violation of the terms of our contract so we demanded to send us back to India," he said.

Rekha Devi whose brother Vijay Jaswal, a resident of Una, Himachal Pardesh is also among the 52 workers, told that ever since her brother and other workers denied to do menial jobs, the management had cut down on their food and water supplies. "Company has violated its contract so what is wrong if they want to come back to India?" she questioned adding that the relatives of these 52 Indians here had written letters to the Prime Minister and the foreign minister seeking their urgent intervention.

Notably there is no whereabouts of the 40 Indians abducted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from a textile factory in Mosul city of Iraq since their abduction in June.

"Now my worries have multiplied after they separated eight of them from the rest. I wish they were safe and sound," she said .

Chairman of UK based NGO, NyayaUK, Jas Uppal told: "It is of considerable concern that 8 of the 52 men are taken away from compound under protest by representatives Company. Nobody knows where they have been taken to. Their telephones have been confiscated. I have serious concerns about their safety".

She said she also contacted the director of the company Sara Hameed Saleem. "Her response was unhelpful to say the least; she did not appear to understand that the difference between a contract of employment and enslavement.

These men were unlawfully detained. Their employment contracts were frustrated when they were denied to do the work that they were contracted to. The treatment of the men has been abysmal, inhumane and torturous. An absolute abuse of their human rights. The men have adamantly maintained throughout that they want to return to India". persons,skilled Indian workers,ISIS,indian workers,Indian nationals

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