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New Delhi reacts to ‘barbaric’ death of Indian laborer in Italy

A farm laborer was allegedly abandoned by his employer after his arm was severed in an accident

New Delhi has contacted Italian authorities following the death of an Indian laborer who was allegedly abandoned on the roadside with a severed arm in the province of Latina.

Satnam Singh was cutting hay when a machine severed his arm, according to the Flai CGIL trade union, an Italian organization for workers in the agriculture and food industry. Singh’s wife and friends reportedly called the police and he was flown to Rome by helicopter, but doctors pronounced him dead on Wednesday.  

Instead of receiving help from his employer, Singh was “dumped like a bag of rubbish near his home,” the FLAI CGIL trade union claimed. The laborer was working in Italy without legal papers, AFP reported.

The Indian Embassy stated on X (formerly Twitter) that it was aware of the tragedy and, in addition to contacting Italian authorities, was making efforts to provide consular assistance to Singh’s family.

Italian Labor Minister Marina Calderone told parliament that Singh was abandoned in a “very serious condition” after the accident. “It was a true act of barbarity,” she said, according to AFP, adding that an investigation is underway and expressing hope that those responsible would be punished.

The Italian Democratic Party has described Singh’s death as a “defeat for civilization.” The atrocious violence of those who preferred to try to hide their responsibilities in providing aid to this young worker, inevitably [compromised] his chances of survival,” the party said, according to AFP.

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Latina, to the south of the Italian capital Rome, is home to tens of thousands of Indian migrant workers, many of them from the Punjab state, according to reports. In 2021, AFP reported that another Indian migrant, Balbir Singh, was rescued during a police raid after spending six years in a “slave-like” situation at a farm in Latina. Singh reportedly appealed for help via Facebook and WhatsApp to local Indian community leaders and an Italian rights activist.

Lured by the promise of higher wages, many Indians travel to foreign countries in search of menial jobs. Since the beginning of this year, around 6,000 Indians have been flown to Israel to meet the shortage of labor after the outbreak of the war in Gaza. Israel has been looking to replace Palestinian workers with Indian labor, and in May 2023, West Jerusalem and New Delhi signed a memorandum of understanding, under which the Indian government facilitated the recruitment of citizens into Israel’s construction industry.

Earlier this year, Patnibin Maxwell, an Indian laborer from Kerala state, was killed in an Israeli border town, reportedly by a missile fired from Lebanon. Following the incident, the Indian government advised its nationals in Israel to move to safer locations.

READ MORE: Fire kills 40 Indian workers in Kuwait

According to India’s foreign minister, there were around 13 million Indian nationals abroad in 2023, including “laborers, professionals, and experts.” While some laborers get jobs in Europe, most are working in the Middle East. Last week, 46 Indians were killed when a fire broke out in a building in Ahmadi Governorate in Kuwait that mostly housed Indian laborers.

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June 20, 2024 at 05:00PM

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