Companies

Locals foil Ethiopian police attempt to rescue IL&FS’ Indian staff

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on December 05, 2018 Published on December 04, 2018

In a twist to the hostage situation faced by IL&FS’ Indian employees in Ethiopia, a stealthy attempt by the Ethiopian police to rescue four of them early on Tuesday morning was thwarted by the local employees.

According to two sources aware of the development, the employees had initially managed to escape as the locals were asleep when the police came to rescue them. The employees and the police even managed to get some 40 km from the base camp, but some local workers tracked them down and blocked the road. The local staff came in different vehicles to stop them and forced them back into the base camp. They came in hordes and outnumbered the three policemen and their single vehicle, according to sources in the know.

“They were like the Taliban, coming together in a Toyota Hilux, hollering in the local language and even pushing the policemen. It was like a situation straight out of those ISIS videos. The employees clearly looked scared and feared for their life,” a source told BusinessLine requesting anonymity for fear of any action by local authorities.

 

Once the Indian employees were forced back into the camp, there was a meeting with the local administration when the Indian employees were informed that they wouldn’t be allowed to leave until the company paid the pending dues. They also added that the police and the local administration were now with the Ethiopian employees. “The police came in the morning on the orders of the commissioner and they failed to rescue the employees. Now, the local administration has joined hands with the local employees,” the second source added.

A source in the Ministry of External Affairs told BusinessLine that they were not aware of this development.

IL&FS declined to comment but a source close to the company said discussions are ongoing and a resolution is expected in a day or two.

Sukhvinder Singh, Bishnu Nagaraju, Chaitanya Hari and Khurram Imam were the four employees in the Bure- Lot 3 camp whose rescue failed. These employees have been told by the company to not give any statement to the media, said another source. There is no information on Neeraj Raghuwanshi, who is alone in the Nekemte-Lot 1 camp, and whether any similar rescue attempts have been made. Two other employees were released on December 1.

“The local employees only want their pending dues and the stranded employees are their only way out,” a source said. “The safety situation facing the stranded employees is precarious as the local employees are livid. They are surviving on rice and potato,” the source added.

Published on December 04, 2018
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