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Indian dock workers in US seek UN help

April 09, 2008 13:46 IST

Accusing the Indian government of 'abandoning' them to their fate, Indian dock workers from Mississippi who claim to be victims of modern day slavery have now sought the help of the United Nations.

The workers, who claimed they were tricked into coming to the US under the H2B guest workers programme on a false promise of permanent residency and were forced to live under inhuman conditions, met the Deputy Director of New York office of High Commissioner for Human Rights Craig G Mokhiber in New York.

After the 45-minute meeting, Saket Soni, who led the Indians, said Mokhiber had agreed that their alleged ill-treatment constituted violation of international and humanitarian laws.

Mokhiber, however, did not comment on the meeting.

Signal International had said it had fired the recruiter after it learnt of its misconduct but denied the workers' charges that they were being treated as slaves as 'baseless and unfounded'.

Seventeen workers had come to New York to meet with the UN official. They said the official discussed with them the various courses open to them in the United Nations.

Though their fate remains uncertain, the workers who met Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen last month after a 1,500-km march from New Orleans and demanded a CBI probe, said they would not leave the country without getting justice for themselves and others placed in the same condition.

They, however, regretted the Indian government's apathy. "We spent three hours relating our tales to the Indian Ambassador and other embassy officials in Washington and were ultimately told that they could act only within the protocol," a worker said, asserting they only wanted the Indian and US governments to work together to find a solution. 

Dharam Shourie in New York
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