India’s Bahrain mission awaiting judgement on compensation claim

August 4th, 2008 - 1:44 pm ICT by IANS  

By Aroonim Bhuyan
Dubai, Aug 4 (IANS) For over a year now, the Indian embassy in Bahrain has been awaiting a court judgement on a compensation claim it had filed for the death of 16 Indian workers in a fire that broke out in a labour accommodation camp in that country two years ago. “We are keenly following the case and are awaiting the judgement on the compensation claim for a total of 1.6 million Bahraini dinars ($4.2 million) we had filed for the 16 Indian workers who had died in the fire,” India’s Ambassador to Bahrain Balkrishna Shetty told IANS from Manama.

The 16 Indian workers had died, while 200 others were injured, when the fire broke out at a three-storey building that served as a labour accommodation camp in a residential area in Qudabia in 2006.

An Asian supervisor of the company, which employed the workers, was later sentenced by a Bahraini court to two years in jail for the deaths and violation of the country’s labour ministry accommodation regulations while charges against the owner of the company as well as another Asian supervisor were dropped.

Subsequently, the Indian mission filed the compensation claim of BD1.6 million - BD100,000 ($265,217) for each worker - July 29 last year, saying that the company should also be held responsible.

“Until and unless the representative of the company is held guilty, the issue of compensation cannot be taken up,” the ambassador said.

“We are awaiting a judgement on our appeal,” he added.

According to Shetty, the case should serve as an example for other companies in that Gulf nation.

“We also believe that this case will be an example to others so that workers are accommodated in safe conditions,” he said.

Earlier, speaking to the local media, the ambassador said: “We demand BD100,000 for each victim as they were forced to live in an unsafe and overcrowded place. They were not provided with a proper kitchen so they were left with no option but to cook their food inside their room.”

Stating that the compensation claim was within he legal framework, he said: “We respect the government of Bahrain and are certain of the impartiality of its judicial system”.

Meanwhile, a fund was set up with the help of the Indian Community Relief Fund and Indian businessmen both in Bahrain and India, which is supporting the families of the victims.

But the compensation will uphold the legal rights of the families, according to the ambassador.

Bahrain is home to around 290,000 expatriate Indians and a large number of them work as contract labourers in the country’s booming construction industry.

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