Ensure release of Indian workers in SA: CM to Ravi

Bhubaneswar: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday asked the Centre to intervene into the detention of 51 workers in South Africa, official sources said.

Altogether 23 workers from Orissa, 19 from West Bengal and nine from Bihar had been detained in South Africa, Patnaik said in a letter to Vayalar Ravi, the union minister of Overseas Indian Affairs & Civil Aviation.

One workman namely Narendra Kumar Mallick died in the course of employment there and his body was sent to his native village in the state, Patnaik pointed out.

The workers from Orissa had gone to South Africa with help of a local agent through two Andhra Pradesh based contractors for execution of a project.

They had been reportedly promised payment of Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 a month by contractors with provision of good food and shelter. But the promises were not honoured.

Instead, they had been kept under house arrest and tortured, Patnaik said quoting media reports.

"I would therefore request you to kindly look into the matter at your level in the interest of the victimised workmen and instruct the Indian Embassy in South Africa to co-ordinate with the South African government to take effective steps for urgent release of the workmen to their native places in Orissa," Patnaik said in the latter.

The state government had also informed the Protector General of Immigration, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, asking it to contact the South African Embassy and initiate steps to repatriate the stranded workers from South Africa with settlement of their dues.

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