By KANWAL TARIQ HAMEED
MANAMA, 25 Feb 2006
POLICE broke into a Hamad Town scrapyard and freed six labourers locked up in a freezer truck, after a tip-off yesterday, sources told the GDN. The labourers, found locked up in the abandoned freezer truck for more than 24 hours by an enraged Bahraini sponsor, were taken to Salmaniya Medical Complex for check-ups, sources said.
It all started when the Bahraini owner of a Hamad Town garage, allegedly responsible for kidnapping and imprisoning the Indian men, earlier kidnapped and assaulted a friend of theirs over a visa dispute, a member of the Indian Community Relief Fund (ICRF) said.
Human rights activists, Indian Embassy representatives and local Indian community figures joined forces to come to the aid of the men, after they were tipped off during an embassy open house meeting, he added.
"The sponsor sold a visa to an expatriate worker named Karunanidhi for BD1,200," Surya Charitable and Cultural Association member K R Nair said. "Then Karunanidhi called an expatriate worker from Tamil Nadu to work as a freelance labourer," said Mr Nair, who accompanied embassy officials, police and activists to release the men.
"The sponsor came to know of it and asked Karunanidhi to bring the free visa worker to his garage – but he wasn’t able to locate him.
"The Bahraini sponsor then caught hold of Karunanidhi and took him to Hamad Town. There he put him underneath a bathtub, which he turned upside down, and parked his Jeep over it. Then he locked the vehicle and left.
"The sponsor came back yesterday morning and hit Karunanidhi on his legs, stomach and chest. Then he came to Manama and took all these people (who lived with Karunanidhi) to Hamad Town and locked them in the freezer of a pick-up," Mr Nair said.
"The sponsor was helped by a group of Bahraini friends, who forced the men into the truck. The freezer was obviously switched off, and he told the watchman not to release them," he added.
"The sponsor was angry because Karunanidhi wasn’t working for him and he was trying to force them to make the free visa worker from Tamil Nadu also to work for him."
The ICRF activist, who received a tip-off that a group of men were being held, said the sponsor had escaped after realising police were onto him.
He said he informed the embassy and the Migrant Workers’ Protection Society. The embassy then reported the matter to the Hamad Town Police Station.
Mr Nair said he and embassy officials will go to collect the report from the police station today.