Ronen Sen to meet agitating Indian workers | india | Hindustan Times
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Ronen Sen to meet agitating Indian workers

Back home, the workers’ family members voiced their fears and anxieties to a section of the press. Coming back is not an option for most. HT Correspondents report.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2008 02:51 IST
HT Correspondents

After 15 days of continuous protests by Indian workers in Mississippi, Ronen Sen, Indian ambassador to the US, has finally agreed to meet the agitating Indian workers in Washington DC.

Sen has cancelled prior appointments to meet the workers who are marching to the US capital, said the Indian Embassy in Washington. And in New Delhi, some of the workers’ families spoke to the press for the first time since the agitation began, on Friday. The workers’ families have been doing the rounds of the ministries of overseas affairs and external affairs, with the help of a few NGOs.

“We want our government to ask the US Department of Justice to grant temporary visas to Indian workers so they can fight their case and get back their jobs,” said Sandeep, whose brother-in-law is one of the workers subjected to inhuman working and living conditions by Signal International in Mississippi.

In the US, immigrant and labour rights groups displayed a formidable show of support for nearly 100 Indian satyagrahis in Jackson, Mississippi, on Thursday. As support for the workers grew, Sen released a statement saying he would meet the workers when they arrived at Washington, DC.

Sen had last week conveyed his willingness to meet to Indian workers at a mutually convenient date and time.

“As we expected, growing support for our cause in the United States and media coverage has pressured Ambassador Sen into agreeing to a mass meeting with the workers,” said Saket Soni, director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Human Rights. "We have already made it clear to Ambassador Sen that we insist this meeting be about solutions, not symbols. We intend to use to this meeting to clarify Ambassador Sen’s timeline for meeting with key US and Indian officials in order to end abuses in the US guest worker programme.”

Back home, the workers’ family members voiced their fears and anxieties to a section of the press. Coming back is not an option for most as a lot is at stake. Most of them had to sell their land and even mortgage their homes to accumulate the Rs 8–10 lakh required to get the promised dream job in the US.

“We have sold every bit of property we owned. The moneylenders are losing their patience as every month the interest just keeps on amassing. If he does not get a visa and job we would be thrown out of the house,” said Binoy, whose brother-in-law AP Raju is in Mississippi. “My brother-in-law is tired, frustrated and misses his son a lot. The future of our whole family depends on him. If we does not get back his job we are doomed,” added Binoy.

The NGOs have demanded that there be coordination and regular consultation with the families of Indian workers, representatives of overseas workers, the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and the prosecution team of Signal and other defaulting US recruiters.

With agency inputs.