Anxiety rising among relatives of Indians working abroad

via published on May 1, 2006

With the killing of yet another Indian by the Taliban on Sunday, relatives of Indian personnel working abroad have expressed concern about the safety of their dear ones.

They have also expressed their lack of faith in the negotiations by the Central Government. As the Government has failed consecutively in securing the release of the abducted K Suryanarayan, a communications engineer, and Maniappan Ramankutty, a jawan with the Border Roads Organisation, in the past six months.

Leaders of Central and State parties had repeatedly asked the Government to step up security measures for Indians working in Afghanistan following the abduction and brutal killing of Maniyappan last November.

Though the Central Government had declared that security arrangements would be beefed up in view of the Taliban threat, no action was taken by the Afghan Government, nor did the Central Government make any effort to make sure that the declaration was put to work.

Maniyappan’s relatives had also pointed out that the State and Central Governments were indifferent to the plight of the abducted and had failed to initiate a proper negotiation and thereby his release.

Government apathy and inaction reaches its pinnacle when it comes to conveying the sad news to the relatives. In the case of Maniyappan, his friends had alleged that the Government hid the fact from the relatives even when media reports were pouring in with details of his death.

Rajendran, a friend of Maniyappan, summed up his emotions through these words: “Maniappan was a Central Government employee who went to Afghanistan as a part of his official duties, and the Government should have made a serious effort to save his life.”

Though media reports stating Maniyappan’s death were coming in, the Government was playing hide and seek with the relatives. The village officer and revenue divisional officer visited the relatives but didn’t confirm the sad news. Instead of trying to convey the real situation, they told the relatives that efforts were on to free them.

Similarly, Suryanaraya’s relatives did not receive any communication from the Government even when the media, including the international media, reported his death. This should be read with the fact that the Government did not convey any information as to the condition of Maniyappan though the international media, including Reuters, had reported his death.

BJP spokesman V K Malhotra had criticised the Government of inaction following the death of Maniyappan and had demanded them to come out with a full statement on the issue, including the lapses on the part of the Government.

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