Seven Indian workers, who have allegedly been cheated by their sponsors in Malaysia and left in the lurch, have found help from the Indian mission in Kuala Lumpur. The labourers will reach home by an Air India flight soon, Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi said on Thursday.
"The workers, who belong to Kerala's Kannur district, are now safe in the Indian mission in Kuala Lumpur. Air India has agreed to provide them travel facilities," Ravi told IANS in New Delhi.
The workers - Vivek Sanal, Prakashan, Rakesh, Vinu, Suresh, Mahesh and Ranjith - were sponsored by Shree Royal Stores at Ulutrium of Zohar two years ago.
"The employers were harassing the workers and they demanded money as ransom for their return to India," Ravi explained.
The parents of one of the workers approached the minister through Kasargode MP P. Karunakaran.
In a memorandum to the MP, Sanal's mother pointed out that the workers were on a two-year contract with Royal Stores. However, as the term was ending in December 2007, the owner of the shop informed her that her son and other workers had stolen money and threatened police action against him.
Sanal's mother was asked to send the 'stolen' money - around Rs.150,000. Although the families managed to send that amount, the sponsor then asked for Rs.500,000. As he was demanding more money, the workers complained to the Malaysian police that advised them to approach the Indian mission.
The Ministry of Overseas Indian affairs has directed the mission to help the workers to complete the legal process to return home. "If there is any delay in getting the passports back, they would be given exit visas," Ravi said.
"These types of incidents are becoming common in Malaysia. Indians have become an easy target for harassment by employers in Malaysia. Once the workers reach there, the employers seize their passports and demand ransom to return it.
"We would urge Malaysian authorities to take note of such harassment," Ravi said.
Sources in the ministry said India would soon sign a memorandum of understanding on labour with Malaysia to ensure "the welfare and protection of Indian labourers going there".