Ahmedabad: Forty-two of the 1,200 Indian workers, who were stranded at a cement plant in Angola for the past 10 days, returned home on Saturday.
Among those who have returned, four are from Gujarat. Vijay Valmik, who landed at Vadodara in the morning and reached his home in Petlad in the afternoon, told reporters that neither the federal government nor the Gujarat administration had done enough to ensure the safety or early return of the labourers.
"The situation is grim for about 1200 protesting workers. They had to take shelter in the forest to escape from police wrath, local administration and company management since past 32 days, ever since they began agitation in support of their demand," Valmiki said, narrating their plight.
Vijay Valmik, who has reached Gujarat, urges govt to ensure early return of other Indian workers from Angola.
All of them were promised wages in American dollars, while they were paid in local currency, after which the agitation started. They have been taken hostage for protesting against the factory management, he said.
"Police had resorted to heavy firing... nearly 300 rounds were fired to scare them," Valmiki claimed. "We were not injured in firing because we took shelter in the forest while one youth who was injured in firing was kept in a hostel and not taken to the hospital," he said.
They had tolerated the atrocities with dreams of a better future for their families, said Valmiki, who had left for Angola to work in the electrical division of a cement factory.
He said, "Officials of the cement company, located near Sumbe city of the African country, have taken away the passports of all the 1200 workers, putting them in a piquant situation."
Valmiki was carrying lists of the Indian workers whose passports were taken away by the company officials. He managed to return to Vadodara based on an Immigration Certificate (IC).
"The Centre is not doing much on the issue, while the lives of 1200 Indians are in danger in Angola," he said. "Ashish Maheshwari, a youth from Vadodara has been detained there and his whereabouts are not known," Valmiki said.
The worried family members of the workers have urged the government to intervene in the matter quickly and ensure safe return of their kith and kin.
"We will also request the Prime Minister to initiate effective steps for the safety of Indians stranded in Angola," Valmiki said. He said that most of the Indian workers at the factory were recruited by a Chennai-based firm while he had got the job through a Vadodara-based placement agency. There were around 40 youths from Gujarat who were working in the Angola factory.
(With additional inputs from PTI)