On June 10, the CPI(ML) held a protest demonstration outside the Ministry of External Affairs office in Delhi asking what measures had been initiated for the safe return of 7 workers, from Jharkhand, Bihar and Kerala, employed by the KEC Company who had been abducted on 6 May in Afghanistan. The protesters were joined by family members of the abducted workers.
Vinod Singh, Central Committee member of the CPI (ML), and former MLA of Bagodar, Jharkhand from where 3 of the abducted workers hail, addressed the protesters saying, “We have been demanding measures to ensure the safe return of the workers for the past one month, I myself have met the CM of Jharkhand, and have written several times to the Ministry but so far we have been greeted with silence. It is well known that unemployment is at an all-time low in the country and people are forced to migrate to other countries for work. The Indian Government must take the responsibility and ensure the safe return of the workers. It is a real test for Modi Government’s diplomacy.”
Comrade Vinod, who has led many efforts by the CPIML in the past to protect the rights and safe return of migrant workers from Jharkhand who find themselves stranded, arrested or otherwise in trouble in other countries, also said that there is an urgent need to formulate a policy which will bind the Government of India to specific measures to protect migrant workers from India.
Hemlal Mahto, who came from Jharkhand and is a relative of one of the abducted workers said, “The family members of the missing workers were informed by the co-workers who are working along with them in Afghanistan. They informed their families and it has been over a month that we are meeting all concerned authorities but nobody is willing to take any action. The company – the employers – did not inform the families of the abducted workers.”
Kawalpreet Kaur from AISA said that “Earlier External Minister Sushma Swaraj lied to the nation about the 39 missing Indians in Iraq who were later found to have been killed, and now the MEA haven’t taken any initiative for the safe return of workers abducted in Afghanistan. This exposes the farce of the Government’s diplomatic efforts to ensure safe return of its citizens.”
Neeraj Kumar, Delhi AISA Secretary said that “It is only after agitation and protests that Government has agreed to meet the family. We have been informed by Deepak Mittal, Joint secretary of the MEA that Sushma Swaraj will meet the family members of the abducted workers on 9th of June with a delegation. We hope that swift action will be taken otherwise will we intensify the protests.”
However, in spite of the assurance, Sushma Swaraj has yet to meet the family members: as of 12 June, the family members are still waiting in vain in Delhi to meet the Minister or anyone else from the MEA. Why is the MEA avoiding meeting the family members? Is it because it has no efforts to show?