Balugaon: Family members of five labourers, who are held captive by their employers in Oman, threatened mass self-immolation in front of the Khurda collectorate after their repeated pleas went unheard.
Even after repeated complaints to the state and Centre seeking help to rescue the stranded workers, no steps were taken, the family members said.
“We have no choice but to kill ourselves as we cannot endure the pain that our children are facing in Oman”, they added.
The labourers were identified as Dilip Sahu and Papu Sahu of Banpur, Manash Nayak of Balipadar Nuagaon, Pradeep Pradhan of Sunakera and Sarat Chandra Palei of Chadeiya village under Krushnaprasad police limits in Puri district.
According to sources, a labour contractor lured the five into working in Oman on the promise of attractive wages. He took Rs 70,000 each from them on the pretext of providing them flight tickets and Visa and assured them of monthly salary of Rs 22,000.
Believing him, the labourers gave the sum to the contractor by mortgaging their properties, borrowing money from moneylenders and selling gold ornaments. Later, with the help of a Kerala-based agency, the workers were sent to the Gulf country.
However, things turned worse after the workers reached Oman. They were made to toil for over 12 hours a day. Though they were taken on the promise of engagement as labourers and masons, they were forced to work in beef factories, the families alleged.
The labourers were made to load and unload cattle and process the beef.
When they protested, they were reportedly assaulted by their employer.
The labourers were held captive after they expressed their wish to return to the state. The employer seized their passports and asked them to deposit Rs 3 lakh each to get back the document. The employer reportedly threatened to kill them if they failed to do so.
The labourers, somehow, managed to contact their families and narrate their ordeal.
On learning their plight, family members wrote letters to the President, Prime Minister, Ambassador of India to Oman, external affairs minister, state labour commission and the collector.
However, no steps have been taken in this direction yet, the distressed families claimed. Left with no option, they warned of self-immolation April 24 in front of the collectorate if the labourers are no rescued by then. PNN