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Govt must file trafficking case: Workers

Protesting Indians workers in the US have slammed the Govt for its refusal to register a case of human trafficking against the Mumbai-based recruiter, reports Nagendar Sharma.
Hindustan Times | By Nagendar Sharma, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUN 04, 2008 02:27 AM IST

Protesting Indians workers in the US have slammed the government for its refusal to register a case of human trafficking against the Mumbai-based recruiter who hired on on false promises of green cards and overcharged them for the deal.

More than 100 Indian workers, hired to work in Pascagoula, Mississippi, have been protesting for nearly three months, demanding action against marine fabrication company Signal International and its Mumbai-based recruitment agent, Dewan Consultants.

Mumbai police recently registered an FIR against the agent under various provisions of the IPC and Emigration Act based on the complaint lodged by the Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs.

The ministry, has however, refused to book the agent for human trafficking. “There is no provision to deal with human trafficking under the Emigration Act. We have gone for a strong case against the agent and do not want any dilution, a senior ministry official said.

“Human trafficking is dealt with by the Home Ministry and involvement of multiple authorities would have caused delay. The sections under which the FIR has been lodged are strong and could lead to two years’ imprisonment,” the official said.

However, Indian workers, currently on a hunger strike in Washington for 21 days, have charged the government with going soft on the recruitment agent.

Workers’ advocate and director of the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice, Saket Soni, said the action of Indian government was unexplainable as the US Department of Justice promptly opened an investigation into the trafficking charges against the firm and the recruiter.

“The Indian government has failed its citizens. It has treated a clear-cut case of human trafficking against its NRIs in the US like a criminal matter over which it has no jurisdiction. It has violated every established protocol of trafficking investigations,” he said.

The workers have also refuted the government claim that it required more evidence against the recruitment agents “for a stronger case”.

The workers have asked PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi “to show courage and press the US government to protect the workers’ rights by cooperating with the human trafficking investigations.”

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